Halfords is taking steps to modernise and improve its digital capabilities in response to the threat of ‘connected cars’ in the wider motor industry.
As car manufacturers provide the kind of consumer technology offered by Halfords in its stores within a vehicle’s package, there is a sure danger of lost profits in Halfords’ services category.
“We are aware that manufacturers are really going for the connected car in a huge way to collect data about all of us,” said Katrina Jamieson, Halfords Digital Director, at the British Retail Consortium’s Omnichannel event. “We don’t want you to have everything from the manufacturer. We want to sell it to you. So we’re on a constant watch out for the threat to our motoring business.”
Jamieson did say that, being “close” to the main car brands, Halfords was aware of how they would invest and could adapt accordingly. However, in response to the danger Halfords is considering a move into services based more around the internet of things, such as the creation of an e-diary allowing customers to book times, via an app, to speak with staff specialists.
This new service required integration between the app diary and the existing back-end systems, including employee rotas. Convenient technology is the key, both for engaging with customers and improving store performance.
“It’s giving us email addresses to talk to people but also allows us to link up sales,” Jamieson continued, pointing out Halfords’ new e-receipts, which have become a key KPI for measuring in-store performance.
This focus on technology and service comes as part of a plan to utilise data to improve customer experience at Halfords, spearheaded by newly installed Chief Executive Jill McDonald.