Retailers fail to support consumers after the sale, survey finds

By Angela Dorizas

SYDNEY: Retailers are failing to provide a home installation and networking solution, according to a study released today by Galaxy Research.

Australian-owned service provider, gizmo, commissioned the survey of 514 Australians. The study found that consumers are purchasing new technology that they do not know how to operate. Of those interviewed, 67 per cent admitted to owning devices they believed were not performing.

When it comes to understanding new technology, customers only remember key selling features, said gizmo CEO Bretth Chenoweth.

“Australian retailers do a great job of taking the customer through the full functionality of a product at the time of purchase, but the full functionality of any one device is tough for any one customer to remember,” Chenoweth told Current.

Add to this the retailers’ inability to provide a personal solution to suit the needs of individual customers.

“Retailers are usually unaware of the consumers personal home technology environment and often it is the networking to other devices which enables the additional features that a customer requires, in which case the retailer is not in a position to fully educate a customer,” Chenoweth added.

According to the study, consumer knowledge within the areas of computing and home networking is significantly lacking.

“The computer skills of many Australians are lagging between five and 10 years behind the technology features they have in their homes,” Chenoweth said.

Not surprisingly, the top three most common complaints recorded in the study were related to computing. Of those surveyed, 35 per cent complained that their hardware was slow to boot up, 25 per cent were unhappy with pop-ups and error messages and 22 per cent were unable to share devices such as modems and printers across multiple PCs.

A further 19 per cent complained of old or broken equipment, 16 per cent were unable to play music through a home stereo and three per cent reported losing digital files.

“Whether it is setting up shared iTunes libraries, networking file and print sharing, setting up a wireless network, or backing up precious documents and photos, many Australians are just not able to integrate technology in their home,” Chenoweth said.

Consequently, customers are now purchasing duplicate technology. Seven out of 10 consumers surveyed reported owning two or more computers, but 40 per cent of those had not enabled file sharing within the home.

A further 11 per cent of survey participants were paying for two or more internet connections instead of sharing a single connection across networked computers.

Home networking is only slowly gaining traction despite an increase in products and services available.

“Over the last few years, the retail environment in Australia has changed to allow much more floor space for networking devices,” Chenoweth said.

“A few Australian retailers have some form of installation or networking services solution, be it a recommendation to a local technician, a friend, or indeed doing the work themselves.”

Chenoweth proposes a third party solution for assisting consumers in the home installation and networking process.

“Retailers need to take a strategic perspective and acknowledge that a professional services solution is an integral component of delivering a full sales proposition to a customer.”

JB Hi-Fi recently partnered with gizmo to offer a home installation solution.

“We are retailers and not installation experts,” said JB Hi-Fi chief executive, Richard Uechtritz.

“Third party service providers have the experience and the infrastructure.”

According to Chenoweth, all retailers need to partner with professional service providers to provide bundled service packages with CE purchases, along with a referral system.

“If customers see the retailers taking a leadership position in providing a total solution for them then this will drive the industry wide demand for more complex technology product offerings.”

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