Mike Hart

Out of the BOX: PCR’s October interview with Mike Hart from BOX

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, BOX is a leading UK e-tailer of tech products. Michelle Winny, PCR’s Editor spoke with Mike Hart, Marketing and Content Manager at BOX to find out more about living life out of BOX.

Tech specialist BOX recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. The company sells an extensive range of technology and computing products, including laptops, desktop PCs, phones and tablets, components, monitors and printers. The business was founded by Mark Jordan in 1996 and today it is a leading UK technology e-commerce business, employing over 100 people. Here’s what Mike Hart, Marketing and Content Manager had to say.

Can you tell us a bit more about the background of BOX and what the company has achieved over its past 25 years in business and how it has evolved?
Over the course of 25 years BOX has grown significantly to become one of the UK’s leading online retailers of tech goods, stocking thousands of products from 4K TVs, laptops, fridge freezers, washing machines, 3D printers to projectors and custom-built PCs.

Originally, the company was formed as XENEX in 1996 from a room in student accommodation by current MD Mark Jordan, specialising in computers, parts and software.

In 2005 Box launched its 1st online website simplyacer.com, a year later the company achieved a turnover of 15m, while in 2010 Box received recognition from Virgin’s Fast Track 100 awards, coming in at number 48 for Revenue Growth.

Between 2011 and 2016 Box launched numerous specialist websites, moving away from the XENEX brand. During this time the company’s turnover reached £30m.

In 2018 Box.co.uk was launched and all of our specialist websites were closed and redirected. A decision was made to consolidate our efforts and expertise into one brand that we could build to become a household name among tech. A rebrand would follow, shaping Box.co.uk’s iconic identity with a bold mix of black, white and icon inspired additional imagery. This rebrand coincided with a website refresh, ensuring continuity between branding and user experience.

The rebrand led into 2019 and proved a very successful year, with Revenue up 9% year on year.

2020 through to 2021 was a period like no other, with unimaginable obstacles and difficulties. Despite this, Box’s growth skyrocketed, increasing turnover to 100m and growing the workforce to over 130 employees.

Can you explain a bit more about the company’s ecommerce strategy and how this has revolutionised the traditional high street store?
Our success has come through employing passionate industry experts to build on our existing ranges and to develop new categories into our portfolio, while being supported by our vast infrastructure and logistics to provide products consumers want with a service that’s second to none.

On top of ensuring our range meets the needs and demands of savvy consumers, our commitment to competitive pricing and flexible payment offerings have helped sustain our tremendous growth.

Our agility afforded to us by virtue of being online only, allows us greater flexibility when compared with traditional bricks and mortar stores. Providing us with opportunities to quickly launch new ranges in minutes and adapt prices in-line with the market in order to stay competitive.

Box.co.uk has an exciting future ahead, with focus to pursue new and existing categories to grown even further, all while building brand awareness through innovative campaigns like the Box Hunt.

What are your gaming customers currently looking for in regards to the latest trends and hottest tech?
Gaming customers are some of the most knowledgeable customers in the market. They’re well researched in terms of what products they want and know exactly how much the items cost and where to find the best deals.

We saw a significant uplift in gaming PCs, consoles and gaming peripherals over the course of 2020 with many looking to beat the lockdown boredom. The Nintendo Switch was immensely popular and we’re sure the new OLED model will be just as popular over Black Friday and Christmas with its release scheduled for early October.

The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X continue to be in constraint, with demand far outweighing supply.

How has the gaming landscape evolved over the past 25 years in the company’s experience?
The developments in this area never fail to amaze us. Hardware continues to be refreshed and upgraded in a traditional manner, but the advancement in online capabilities within consoles has allowed hours of extra gameplay with friends, DLC content to be delivered and the popularity of micro-transactions have really proved the biggest changes within the last 25 years, changing how content is delivered and consumed significantly.

What is the current state of the gaming industry?
The gaming industry is still immensely strong and looks set to continue that way for a long time to come. The demand seen for the Nintendo Switch over lockdown, plus the incredibly popular launches of both the PS5 and Xbox Series X with both consoles still extremely difficult to obtain nearly a year after release. Not to mention the huge demand seen for recent graphics card releases from NVIDIA and AMD further proving how popular the gaming industry still is with the UK public.

How have gaming laptops evolved to meet the demands of gamers?
Smarter batteries have allowed for greater battery life away from charge, faster SSDs have provided accelerated load times, while advancements in cooling have enabled gaming laptop manufacturers to deliver high-end PC comparable components within their laptops for exceptional gaming on the go.

What are the latest advances in gaming peripherals?
We’ve seen lots of advancements in the console & PC Gaming peripheral space in the last 6 to 12 months. While all the hype around has surrounded the next gen consoles & latest GPU’s, peripherals supporting these new gaming experiences have come thick and fast, from flight and racing simulation accessories to compatible headsets and controllers.

Where do you see the future of gaming headed, what can we expect to see more of?
The Future of Gaming very much lies within Virtual & Augmented reality just how near in the future this will be is the unknown. These technologies take Gaming from the physically controlled worlds to a partially or virtually controlled immersive environment. Cloud Gaming & 5G are another 2 key elements to the future of Gaming, with the likes of Netflix potentially entering the Gaming space. Keep your eyes peeled for further advancements in the simulation, VR & AR Space.

Which is the best RTX 3080 gaming laptop?
There are many great options available when it comes to RTX 3080 gaming laptops, however two of our most popular models with our customers have been the ASUS ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 inch and the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 inch.

What advances in gaming components are you seeing?
Gaming components continue to be refined and improved, but some of the biggest developments recently have been the release of lite hash rate graphics cards that can deliver the same exceptional gameplay without the mining capabilities, thus making them easier to obtain and less expensive for gamers. We’re also incredibly excited by future component releases that include DDR5 RAM expected to be available in 2022, as well as Intel’s upcoming graphics card range set to rival both AMD and NVIDIA.


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