Half of Brits waste money on wrong devices, claims report

News, Retail

The use of technology in Brits’ daily lives is on the rise, yet 51% have invested in the wrong devices, 68% are overwhelmed when it comes to buying it and 77% are crying out for more real-life human support to help them get their hands on the right kit when shopping digitally.

A survey from retailer Currys has found that tech plays a fundamental part in more than two-thirds of Brits’ (68%) day-to-day lives post-pandemic, with individuals using 11 separate devices for up to eight hours, every single day.

Despite this, over half of respondents (51%) admit they often buy devices that aren’t fit for purpose, wasting an average of £654 on incorrect tech, which equates to £438 billion nationwide on the wrong product buys.

While tech has become increasingly prevalent in our everyday lives, the rapid rate of new products now available, coupled with the increasing complexity of tech and lack of access to real-life expert guidance, is leading to poor buying decisions and an increase in returns across the nation.

In fact, nearly half of the UK (40%) has returned a tech purchase that wasn’t fit for purpose, with a lack of guidance when shopping cited as the key driver. Laptops, mobiles and TVs have been named as three of the most difficult tech products to purchase without real-life expert support.

When looking for new tech, over a quarter of Brits struggle with the number of hi-tech features they need to understand (28%), some fear making the wrong decision (26%), others don’t know which products are going to meet their needs (24%), while some simply don’t understand technical product jargon (27%). Subsequently, the incorrect tech is purchased, with almost a quarter (24%) of shoppers admitting they don’t use a new product once opened, while others give it away as a gift or sell it via a marketplace.

The increased use of chatbots has been identified as a barrier to purchase when buying tech, with only a third of shoppers (26%) stating that they found a simulated human conversation helpful, while nearly half the nation (47%) prefers to speak to a real-life advisor.

Additionally, over a third of Brits (77%) said they would be interested in speaking to a human if it helped them to get to the right product quicker, and a further 68% agree that they would prefer shopping services that allow them to connect with a human tech expert before spending. When asked what tech retailers should be focusing on in the future, two in five (41%) said Human Intelligence should be the key area of focus in the future, with a mere 3% naming artificial intelligence as an area to look at.

This supports earlier research undertaken by Currys that found 57% of shoppers that get human help are more satisfied with their purchase than those who don’t, as it ultimately delivers a quicker and more cost-effective way to shop. Return rates are also higher when consumers don’t speak to an expert beforehand, with 64% of people saying they’d be happy with the right product and less likely to return their purchase if they experienced real human expert help.

Says Ed Connolly, Chief Commercial Officer at Currys comments:

“Technology is such an intrinsic part of our lives now. More than ever before, prior to handing over their hard-earned cash, people want advice about the tech they buy from a real-life human expert, particularly when it comes to expensive and more complex kit.

“We know not every purchase requires guidance from an expert. Sometimes shoppers already know what they want, or they just need something small and simple, which our websites and stores are well equipped for. However, when it comes to more complex tech products that our Tech Nation survey has identified, speaking to someone in-the-know, whether that is online or instore, is what post-pandemic consumers are demanding. This is because expert advice shortcuts the lengthy buying process, cuts out confusion and ultimately arms shoppers with the tech they need.”

The 10 products most difficult to purchase without real-life expert support:

  1. Laptops (25%)
  2. Mobile phone (21%)
  3. TVs / Smart TVs (21%)
  4. Smart home tech / connected home (e.g. Google Nest, Smart Heating, Amazon Echo) (19%)
  5. Desktop computers (16%)
  6. Smart fitness / smart lifestyle tech (15%)
  7. Washing machine (15%)
  8. Home cinema systems (14%)
  9. Cameras (14%)
  10. Tablets (13%)


Chris Price
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