BHS and Co-Op move on tech retail

Homeware chain and supermarket start selling consumer electronics
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Two unlikely new players have entered the tech retail arena, with BHS launching a website that lets customers order computers with their cardigans, and The Co-Op now stocking laptops alongside the lettuce.

High Street clothing and homeware chain BHS unveiled the BHS Direct website in early June, offering a range of products from notebooks and desktops to televisions and cameras. The products are also available to order from the retailer’s main website.

A BHS spokesperson told PCR that the Direct website was a ‘soft launch’, but would not confirm how long the trial would last. “BHS Direct was launched as part of our strategy to be a one-stop shop for the family. This online initiative… is currently performing very well,” the spokesperson said, refusing to comment on whether the chain intends to offer electricals in its bricks and mortar stores.

The move would suggest an attempt to emulate the likes of John Lewis and Marks & Spencer, which have both been successful in offering electronics alongside their more traditional lines such as clothing.

Supermarket chain The Co-Operative, meanwhile, has built on its online tech retail operation by offering products including laptops,TVs and audio equipment in three of its larger stores.

“The move to an in-store proposition is part of a longer-term strategy for business growth,” James Holland, managing director of The Co-operative Electrical, told PCR. “The reaction from customers has been very positive with excellent feedback, and sales have exceeded initial targets.”

The stores where the business model is being trialled – in Bristol, Hove and Bridgend – use a combination of in-store display and ‘pods’ where customers can view over 2,000 products from The Co-op’s range of electronics.

“The trial stores will be evaluated over the next three to six months with a view to rolling out the concept further,” Holland said.

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