‘A fantastic opportunity for independents…’
ERT Award-winning retailer Moss of Bath has opened a new smart home CE showroom. Retail is about theatre, demonstration and customer experience, owner Tim Moss tells Sean Hannam.
When Tim Moss spoke at the ERT Awards Turning Point panel session last year, he urged retailers to make their showrooms less about boxes and more about theatre.
‘Show customers something they haven’t experienced before’, he said.
With his new smart-home CE showroom, he’s done just that.
The smart showroom is located on the first floor of his shop, Moss of Bath, which occupies two knocked-through five-floor Georgian townhouses in the centre of Bath.
Previously, the space had been used as a hi-fi demonstration lounge and, more recently, a TV showroom.
Speaking exclusively to ERT, owner Mr Moss says: “With the increased demand for smart-home technology, the opportunity to convert the space into a smart showroom was an obvious one. It had become tatty and un-used. The conversion involved re-wiring, redecorating and a total re-design of the space, taking two months to complete.”
He adds: “Firstly, we needed a dedicated meeting area away from the shopfloor where clients, architects, designers and builders could unscroll their plans and discuss audio, video, satellite and aerial and data needs.
Our business model has changed – now more than 75 per cent of our income is from custom-install and smart-home projects
“Secondly, the smart-home ‘movement’ presents a fantastic opportunity for the independent retailer. Data networking and connectivity are the buzzwords of the moment and we find customers are genuinely interested in future-proofing their homes.
“Moss of Bath has seven vans on the road, three of which are dedicated solely to smart-home business.”
Says Mr Moss: “We still find Sonos the most in-demand multi-room audio product – customers are very aware of what Sonos is and what it does.
“That said, there is most definitely a resurgence in two channel hi-fi separates, including turntables. We have chosen Technics, Rotel, Pioneer and Sony as our key audio brands.
“We have also installed a couple of pairs of Amina in-wall speakers, as well as a motorised drop-down projector screen and the obligatory, large flat screen on the wall. We use the space to showcase new ‘lifestyle’ products such as the Loewe Bild range of TVs and the Ruark R7 MkIII [radiogram].”
Commenting on current CE tech trends, Mr Moss says: “We are noticing a significant increase in the demand for wall-mounted TVs. As screens get bigger and more complicated, we find that customers are returning to their local specialist retailer for the complete supply and installation service.
“No longer are they happy buying a 77in OLED online often at exactly the same price as in-store – and having it delivered in the post.
“We have also noticed an increase in the demand for CAT6 data installations, during a new-build or renovation, and also HD over CAT6 systems.”
So how has business been since the new showroom opened? Has Mr Moss noticed an uplift?
“Business is currently extremely good, with year-on-year figures showing growth in both turnover and margin,” he tells ERT.
“Our business model has changed significantly over the past 10 years – more than 75 per cent of our income is now generated from custom installation and smart-home projects.”
He adds: “In my opinion, having to rely solely on retail sales is no longer viable. That said, the shopfloor is still an important part of the business – retail is now more about theatre, demonstration and customer experience.”