'Indie innovation and focus can beat Apple on service'

Adam Simon of analyst Context speaks as part of the 'How to beat Apple at service' panel at Boot Camp
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Independent PC and tech retailers can match - and beat - Apple on service, analyst Context has said.

Context's Adam Simon was speaking during a panel discussion on 'How to beat Apple on service' at this year's PCR Boot Camp.

Christopher Phin of MacFormat chaired the panel, with Simon, Himanshu Pal of Kantar Retail, Rich Marsden of VIP Computers and CK Kohli of YoYoTech all providing advice for smaller firms looking to match the tech giant on customer service.

"You mustn’t be afraid to innovate," advised Simon, when asked by Phin how indies could improve their support.

"If Apple is prepared to innovate and challenge itself, it’s a good message for everyone to follow."

Simon also highlighted the importance of firms recognising their strengths and focusing on a smaller, developed offering.

"You can’t be all things to all people – that’s Apple’s secret to success," he said.

Pal added that firms should also get to know their customers, in order to boost the time they spend browsing in-store.

"Retailers are meant to service shoppers and shoppers' needs, so the key is to understanding them," he explained.

"Customers spend three things – money, time and emotion. [Successful retailing] is about the time a shopper spends in the store.

"The key is how you take shoppers in. The key thing of Apple is how long people send in their stores. Develop a social space for products to keep consumers in-store. Delivering on time and experience would service everybody very well."

Marsden agreed, saying: "Relationships with customers don't come naturally – you have to invest. Invest in long term training for staff, so that consumers leave with a positive experience."

Kohli also advised firms to lay to their strengths as smaller, local businesses.

"Think local and think solutions," he said.

"Apple is global but indies are local – Apple can’t match the services or solutions indies provide or tailor a local solution around products."

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