How Halfords is navigating ‘concerns’ amid rise of connected cars

Halfords has admitted that it’s on “constant watch-out” when it comes to the nascent connected car market as the likes of Ford, Toyota, BMW, Volvo and more all ramp up their offerings.

Speaking at the British Retail Consortium’s Omnichannel event yesterday (3 March), the brand’s digital director Katrina Jamieson said the potential threat to its motoring business is huge, and that it’s particularly concerned about the data the manufacturers will be able to collect.

“We are aware that manufacturers are really going for the connected car in a huge way to collect data about all of us. 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,” she said.

Jamieson later explained that Halfords is “close” to main car brands and knows what they’ll invest in, which is helping it to navigate the terrain.

One of its first responses to the potential threat of connected cars, is move further into the ‘services’ market around the internet of things. It will soon offer up an easier way for customers to have products fitted and serviced with the launch of an e-diary which will enable them to book a time slot via an app to have something they just bought fitted into their car.

It’s akin to the Apple Genius bars and, although it might sound straightforward, said Jamieson, it’s taken a huge effort behind the scenes to merge its back end systems (such as employee rotas to know when the right person to do the job will be working on a certain day) with the app diary.

The retailer is also looking to build on the recent launch of e-receipts which Jamieson said has swiftly become a key KPI to in-store performance.

“It’s giving us email addresses to talk to people but also allows us to link up sales,” she said.

Jamieson is now looking to integrate e-receipts into the My Account profile on its website which will soon allow it to connect on and offline sales.

It comes as part of the brand’s newly instated chief executive Jill McDonald plans to focus on improving customer service and experience through better use of data.

It recently introduced a new marketing endline 'Halfords - For Life’s Journeys' ahead of a wider campaign planned for this year.

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