Carphone to spend “millions” revamping its retail business

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Retailer’s stores and website platform set for major overhaul

Carphone Warehouse is to spend “millions of pounds” this year on a major revamp of its high street and online businesses in a move it claims will take it to the “next level”.

Carphone Warehouse UK managing director Jeremy Fennell (pictured) told Mobile News the firm is currently determining the exact layout of the new design – but it will reflect modern trends and technologies, such as wearables and virtual reality.

The first concept stores will appear this year – with an aim to roll out to the rest of its 700 standalone retail estate (to be cut to 680 by end of March 2017), depending on how they perform. Location details were not given. The move follows O2, which opened concept stores in London and Manchester in January.

Customer journey
“We’re looking at how we lay out the space and move those stores onto the next phase,” said Fennell.

“There are two things I am looking at within that. The first is the amount of branded space we have and how the customer journey works in the store.

“The second is new products and categories, more likely on wearables and virtual reality concepts we have seen [at MWC].

“It’s about having stores that encapsulate all of the latest mobile technology into one space. We’re now better placed to try different stuff as a merged business,” he added.

Fennell also revealed Carphone is spending millions of pounds revamping its web platform, describing elements of its performance as “archaic”, noting the lack of consistency between access on a desktop and mobile device.

He highlighted the importance of online trends, claiming up to 80 per cent of the people that visit Carphone stores went to its website first to get ideas of what to buy.

Best in class
“The new platform will make us a better multi-channel retailer and will give customers a much better shopping experience online,” said Fennell.

“It will fix some of the basics that are wrong with the current platform and at the same time will move us on to be best in class. Vast traffic comes from mobile devices, and we aren’t optimised for that.

“It’s always very difficult to persuade ourselves to invest in these systems. We always want to spend money on shops because that is a guaranteed return on investment. It’s what we know and what the customer sees.

“Now we have merged the business, we are really obliged to invest in our IT infrastructure and bring it up to speed.”

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