Selfridges slams 'techno-babble' in retail culture

Prestigious retail giant says stores need to 'de-clutter' the confusing jargon flooding the industry
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Top end department chain Selfridges has attacked the way in which technology retailers overly rely on technical terminology when explaining products, leading to consumer confusion and a mystification of the industry.

The retailer, which is currently experiencing significant growth in laptop, notebook, gadget and TV sales, told PC Retail that its no-nonsense sales pitch and simple ethos towards explaining products has helped it appeal to a more mainstream consumer that may otherwise be put off the heavy technical jargon often employed by specialists.

"If you look at the way Intel and AMD position some of their products, a lot of people don't understand them," said Selfridges' technology buying manager Richard Jones (pictured). "If you're talking the speed of a processor or the name of a processor, it actually doesn't mean a lot to anybody.

"A lot of these guys are geared up around technical information – we need to de-clutter that, customers need to know and understand and to have their hands held to a certain degree on what they need it for, how their going to use it, and the advice on the best product for them.

"[The techno babble] is endemic of the industry, it proliferates down from people like Intel, AMD and Microsoft and I think it's their job to help customers understand it, but as a retailer we're in prime position to understand what customers are looking for and how they're going to shop here; help them make those decisions and de-mystify technology – it's not that difficult."

This uncomplicated approach to communicating with consumers is clearly paying off, with Selfridges' technology department enjoying some impressive sales growth in recent months – bucking the trend set by other big players in the market.

"Laptops, gadgets and TVs were phenomenally successful in 2007. If you look at the notebook market at the moment, and you look at what's being posted out by the likes of PC World, our notebooks sales are growing year-on-year by 15 per cent.

"If you're to believe the news they've put out in the market at the moment, then look at our results, we definitely are beating PC World's growth. With the footfall and the dedication that we've got I'd say we're definitely bucking the trend."

Turn to page 44 in the March issue of PC Retail, or alternatively download our PDF edition, to read our exclusive interview with Richard Jones.

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