New products, new formats, old world

This year CONTEXT is hosting a breakfast at the CES show in Las Vegas. Our objective is to give a voice at CES where senior players can examine the issues which retailers are facing in Europe as we go into 2015. We have ICT retailers from Dixons, Boulanger, Auchan, Mondadori as well as the CEO’s of Darty, Euronics, Lick and Bimeks, and senior representatives from vendors and distributors such as Lenovo, Acer, Samsung, AMD, Netgear, Webroot, the GTDC and Esprinet.

The old continent is divided – there are continued risks to euro integrity, the latest being the threat of Greece reneging on its agreements; UK growth vs Eurozone stagnation; the threat of deflation in France which has been recorded for the first time since modern records began; and the cutting off of Russia – not many Russians will be expected this year at CES. What does 2015 hold for ICT retailers and for the European economy as a whole? There are two encouraging macro-economic trends – the collapse in the oil price puts more money in consumers’ pockets and the QE being engaged by the ECB for the first time will stimulate growth. But overall economic prospects in Europe show a fragile recovery.

Against this environment traditional ICT retailers face well documented threats – the growth of etailers such as Amazon and Ebay, the development of ecosystems in which they play a small role, such as Apple and Google, and the new threat posed by vendors themselves as they engage directly with end customers in a world of connected products.

Régis Schultz, Darty CEO will address the CES breakfast and maintain that unless retailers step up and deliver high value service to their customers, they will no longer serve any useful purpose. Retailers must reclaim customer relationships which are their lifeblood and which are at risk.

The Darty solution has been to advance unique service solutions. Schultz will talk about the innovative Darty button – it is a physical button which links to your wifi and smartphone, and is only available if you have a service contract. You press it and are put in direct contact with Darty service engineers 24/7. “Unless a product has a service opportunity we are not interested in it, for example we only sell Nest thermostats in a bundle with the installation performed by our engineers.” A 100% attach rate is a decision which Darty has taken even if they may lose some deals to consumers who want to instal themselves.

Hans Carpels, the President of Euronics, the 2nd largest retailer in Europe with a consolidated turnover of 17.6 billion euros, will deliver a message about his view of the European technology market in 2015. He is uniquely placed being at the head of a retailer with a presence in 30 countries spread across North, South, East and West Europe.

The old world of Europe is coming up with innovative ways to sell new products in new formats, and which will be explored at the breakfast. If you are interested in attending the Retail CEO breakfast, please contact Adam Simon, Managing Director of Retail at CONTEXT on asimon@contextworld.com

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