Dixons Carphone extends partnership with University of Edinburgh Business School

Dixons Carphone, the electrical and telecommunications retailer and services company, is to continue its partnership with the University of Edinburgh Business School, working with students to promote the role of data science and business analytics within organisations.

Offering students a chance to gain real-world insight into the inner workings of Dixons Carphone, as well as access to data from over 3.5 million consumers and 160 million monthly searches through Hitwise, the project is the latest activity in the organisation’s long standing relationship.

With an emphasis on real-world learning, Dixons Carphone supplied MSc students with a brief to examine the organisation’s omni-channel retail experience and propose new ideas that could help make the customer journey more seamless. The students’ projects were then shortlisted by the Marketing Applications course organiser Dr Mary Ho, before the best were presented to a judging panel made up of representatives from Dixons Carphone and Connexity / Hitwise.

Students were encouraged to examine a wide-range of emerging trends and tools when considering how they could enhance the customer experience. Projects included technologies such as augmented and virtual reality, geofencing, beacons, electronic shelf labels, and chatbots.

Entries were judged against a list of criteria which included: creativity of the proposed solution; feasibility and practicality; insight and understanding of customer demands; and the depth to which customer experience was evaluated.

SNOO (Nikolay Sabev, Kaja Lerfaldet, Shiran Luo), were announced as the winning group, with judges calling their project an exceptional example of innovative thinking. Focusing on bridging the gap between the online experience and in-store guidance offered to customers, the team proposed a concept which would act as an online shop assistant. Building on Currys PC World’s current online live chat function, their proposal offered a number of new and exciting features that the judges felt would excite and delight potential customers.

Speaking following his win, Nikolay, comments:

“The project has been a brilliant experience from start to end. The information and insight that the experts from Dixons Carphone and Hitwise have shared with us has given us a chance to look at some of the challenges that await after graduation. Being part of the winning team feels great and we’re all looking forward to applying the lessons we’ve learnt to more real-life scenarios in the future.”

Offering a unique and valuable experience for students, the Marketing Applications course is part of the wider MSc Marketing / Marketing & Business Analysis degree. The course also hosted several lectures, with eCommerce Insight Managers Chris Ward and Tom McCarthy working alongside Paid Search Specialist Maria Kalpachka to familiarise students with the Dixons Carphone brand. The session also included discussions on digital analytics and online metric measurement, analysis of the typical customer journey, and a dialogue on the omnichannel challenges facing modern multinational retailers.

Students were also provided the opportunity to work with Hitwise’s real-time data sets and leading software, including Competitor Intelligence and AudienceView. These platforms helped students to work through and gain the necessary skills and knowledge required of today’s marketing practitioners and business data specialists.

Dr Mary Ho, Course Organiser for Marketing Applications 2017, comments:

“Working on real-world briefs and developing skills relevant for the current economy is fundamental to our approach to teaching and learning at the University of Edinburgh Business School. This opportunity to work with Dixons Carphone and Hitwise has been invaluable for the students, giving them hands-on experience in profiling and mapping customer journeys across online and offline contexts. I’ve been particularly impressed with the quality and creativity of the solutions proposed and it is clear that students have worked very hard on delivering their pitches to Chris, Paula, Lisa and Junior. Thanks go to Dixons Carphone and Hitwise for this engagement with students through the project and series of guest lectures. And lastly, many congratulations to Nikolay, Kaja and Shiran!”

Professor Wendy Loretto, Dean of the University of Edinburgh Business School, comments:

“This client project is just one example of the ongoing collaboration with Dixons Carphone and shows our commitment as a Business School to develop graduate knowledge and skills in data science and marketing analytics. The partnership with Dixons Carphone is a really unique opportunity for the university and we are very thankful to Dixons Carphone for their support and investment in funding the Dixons Carphone Lectureship and scholarships, and in working with faculty and students on innovative projects.

Chris Ward, eCommerce Insight Manager at Dixons Carphone, adds:

“Working with students at the University of Edinburgh Business School is a hugely rewarding and vitally important activity. We believe we have a duty to help encourage a new generation of data-savvy, business graduates who will help drive our company and the industry forward. Offering students an insight into real-world applied data-analytics will stand them in good stead when it comes to leaving the world of academia and entering the workplace.”

Christian Marsden, General Manager at Hitwise, said:

“The more we can get students comfortable around using data on a daily basis the stronger our businesses will stand in the future. Tackling the digital skills gap is increasingly important within the education system, and we are proud to support the University of Edinburgh Business School and Dixons Carphone in this project. It is great to see the students embracing our platforms and developing real-world solutions to important questions based on live audience insight. We hope this is the first of many collaborations to help teach students the skills necessary to thrive in the workplace.”

This is the latest activity in the educational tie-up between Dixons Carphone and the University of Edinburgh Business School, a partnership that aims to develop teaching and research resources in data science within the institution. Launched back in 2015, the collaboration has already invested close to £500,000 in various initiatives – including a generous Dixons Carphone scholarship which is offered to promising applicants on the School’s MSc and MBA programmes.