Dixons has decided to transform all of its Currys and PC World High Street outlets into ‘stores of the future,’ to show that technology can be fashionable in order to pull in more customers.
Having visited the first store to transform at Bluewater (see my interview with the Dixons CEO here), I have to say I was impressed by the new, clean layout and the tech being used to make buying electronics easy. The ‘art windows’ filled with Nike trainers, headphones and (admittedly, a little outdated) Basement Jaxx lyrics are definitely a step in the right direction in attracting a younger customer base, with the use of wood a big improvement over the tombstone grey of old in making a tech-buying visit cheery rather than a chore.
The question, though, is this – the new stores might have enough pizzazz to pull customers passing the shop in, but is there enough for people to leave the house and come to the High Street in the first place?
Dixons CEO Sebastian James sees the improved services offered by his staff as being enough to convince people to get off their bums and visit, but I wonder whether he has underestimated the attractiveness of the internet. Currys and PC World, as James himself has said, used to not be particularly good, and some customers remembering past experiences may not be swayed by a spruced-up window display, let alone even entering the shop to let the newly-trained staff shine. Add this to the internet’s constantly improving value and ease of use, and Dixons may find its new look without many eyes to catch. Dixons may have its own online presence, but that itself may affect footfall in stores – the focus of the new push.
However, despite my own disappointment with Currys and PC World in the past, the Bluewater store has made me a believer in the reborn Dixons – it has realised that tech should be exciting, rather than exhausting. I just hope that other consumers are as willing to give it a look.