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Comet “Failed to understand the online world”


Last week we saw the sad news that one of the UK’s strongest electronics brand (Comet) is closing its doors. I’m sure many people will pick up on a range of topics as to how they managed to end up in this position, but obviously we’re only interested in their online activity and what could have been done differently.

Dan Wagner (a technology entrepreneur) told the BBC last week that this “was an accident waiting to happen”. He went onto describe that successive managements had failed to understand the online world.

There are a range of mediums that make up this ‘online world’ and within each one are a range of simple techniques that that are highly effective. Here I will run through a handful of basic things that any retail business can do, not matter of their size.

Facebook Business Page:

They had one of these, great! Did they use it? Sort of.

We can see that they had around 34,000 fans and this is VERY small for a company of their magnitude. They clearly didn’t encourage their customers to connect with them socially. Or maybe they did, but didn’t provide an interesting social environment that appealed to the masses.

We can see that they used ‘easy’ and ‘regular’ methods within this environment that lacks innovation. They were very product focussed which in my opinion is a massive no-no when it comes to being social.

Social Media is designed for talking on a social level to clients, it’s not just another channel to send your sales advisors.

comet facebook

Mobile App:

Being able to take advantage of the mobile app world is certainly a budget factor and whether a company can afford to invest – but because at some point Comet would have had a budget, I feel this is certainly warrants a mention as an online marketing technique.

Looking at the screenshot below you can see some companies who already have apps out there. Also looking at a screen grab from my iPhone you can see how convenient it is for me to start shopping at any point.

Now, also notice the cost of the apps – they are all free. Another thing to notice is that not all of the apps are published to make sales, instead used for reward points which is a great technique to encourage people to start using your company over your competitors.

app store view

Mobile Optimised:

There are two ways to make sure your website is mobile optimised for the best possible browsing experience on small devices. The first way is to make a specific ‘mobile version’ of your current website that automatically opens when you are on your phone/tablets. The other way is to use a technique called Responsive CSS. This is where your website actually re-sizes itself to match the resolution of the browser/screen size it’s being used on.

It’s hard to demonstrate what the Comet website looks like on your mobile because they have stripped it right back to only show a recent legal message. However I will demonstrate how one of their competitors has utilised this space very effectively.

PC World have a desktop site and a mobile version of their website. Here you can see how they compare to each other and you can see how they would be likely to retain a lot of mobile customers by providing them a relaxed experience.

mobile optimised


So you can see some basic techniques that Comet could have better utilised. As I mentioned at the start of this article, there will be more fundamental issues that certainly influenced their current position more, but this this article is simply to help to explain more about what Dan Wagner could have been referring to when he made his statement to the BBC.

I hope this has triggered off a string of thoughts on how you can improve your online presence and take advantage of the online mediums available to us today.