BT Shop – the retail arm of BT – discusses the growth of its smart home offerings and how it has used extensive customer feedback to recommend the perfect products for any connect home setup.
Can you tell us a bit about BT Shop’s history and what it specialises in?
BT Shop is the online retail arm of BT. We sell a range of consumer technology devices, from our traditional BT home phones and flagship whole home Wi-Fi mesh network, to mobile phones, 4K Ultra HD TVs and smart home devices from some of the biggest consumer technology brands. We have everything our customers need to create their connected home, in one online store.
We’ve also teamed with BT Broadband to offer customers a free ‘gift’ when they take the broadband service. Recent gift examples have included the Amazon Echo, Google Home, Fitbit Charge 3 and/or Xbox One S – all managed and fulfilled by our small but mighty team in Bolton.
What product areas have you seen the most growth in over the past year?
Outside of strong growth in categories across the BT product portfolio, we’ve seen our main growth in our smart home categories. Smart speakers still lead the way, but smart security has been in triple digit growth over the last 12 months thanks, in part, to awareness and advances in interoperability, but also sharper price points. While smart heating, smart lighting and smart power remain in growth, they’re quite seasonal and customers tend to need more assistance and/or installation support.
Do a lot of customers ask for advice about smart home products?
Smart home technology is a relatively new category for the UK market, especially compared to more legacy computing, networking and home entertainment categories, which means it’s still a new consideration for our own customers.
Understandably, we’ve found that many of our customers are less confident when it comes to buying smart home products compared to other categories, which is why we really listen to their concerns and pain points, and do all we can to help them. ‘Smart home’ as a category is an opportunity for us to grow our product portfolio and knowledge. It’s also an opportunity for our customers to build their smart home ecosystems while utilising BT’s core services – especially relevant for the customers we’ve on-boarded from our BT Broadband acquisition campaigns. We advise our customers as best we can, with help from our educational marketing approach and friendly customer service team who are always on-hand to advise them.
How do you help customers pick the right smart home tech for them?
We recently launched an online campaign to collect customer feedback surrounding smart home products with a survey. We wanted to find out how our customers would use smart products in the home, i.e. whether it’s for smart security, lighting or heating – or all three! We received 10,000 unique responses, which completely exceeded our expectations.
We created a ‘Smart Home Scenarios’ hub that’s full of educational content, based around the stories (or scenarios) our customers provided in their feedback. We took their real stories and recommended the best smart home products that we believed best fit their scenario. For example, one customer said they’d like a smart speaker that plays music and controls the lights at home – so we suggested a smart home speaker and smart light bulbs that we knew worked together. As well as our online hub, our customer service team is there to help our customers every step of the way – whether that’s over the phone, via email or on live chat.
Finally, who in the team has the best claim to fame?
Duncan Rutherford, head of ecommerce at BT Shop, definitely owns this title. When he was 18, he ran his own Westcoast hip-hop site ‘DubCNN’, which is still going to this day. It was 2002 and Snoop Dogg was getting ready to release his album Paid tha Cost to Be da Bo$$. Little did he know the interviewer was 18-year-old Duncan. Snoop Dogg took the call from his bath tub, and became a massive supporter and advocate of DubCNN.
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