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Noel Leeming to sell broadband, gears up for IoT

Noel Leeming customers will be able to bundle broadband services with their purchases soon, as the retailer extends its offerings and eyes up the Internet of things potential.

Tim Edwards, Noel Leeming chief executive officer, says the company is currently doing due diligence on a list of providers to ensure the offers are ‘right for us, and for the consumer’.

Edwards says it hasn’t been finalised yet as to whether the retail chain will offer broadband from multiple providers, or just one.

“But it will be a significant offer for us in the broadband space,” he says.

The broadband offering is expected to debut in eight to 12 weeks.

Noel Leeming has been offering 2degrees mobile connections for some time and Edwards says the broadband offering/s will work in the same way, allowing customers to purchase the broadband contract at the same time as they purchase hardware.

And that hardware, he notes, won’t just be computers.

The company is a key retailer for televisions and Edwards expects broadband to be increasingly bundled with TVs.

“With the all the digital content and Netflix and the like, we want to be at the forefront of not just the hardware sales, but the opportunity to connect.”

Edwards says the market for the broadband offering is wide, from consumers to business.

“Think about the malls and cafes using televisions for menu boards for example. There are opportunities everywhere.

“And as more pipe is laid down by companies like Chorus there are new opportunities opening up and a lot of demand from consumers.”

The company is eyeing up a future beyond smart TVs, too. Edwards says Noel Leeming is positioning itself to be ‘ahead of the curve’ in the internet of things (IoT) world.

“Today we offer mobile solutions with connection contracts, but tomorrow it will be TVs, toasters… and we are ready for it.”

Edwards says while there are plenty of ‘gimmicky’ IoT offerings  being seen at trade shows – such as toasters that send an SMS when the toast is done (“Most of us are in the kitchen next to the toaster when it pops,” notes Edwards wryly).

But he says there are offerings that offer real benefits.

He cites the example, seen by his team at a recent trade show, of slippers which monitor balance. If the wearer falls over the slippers send a message to a medical service.

“There’s the opportunity for technology to really enhance lives,” Edwards notes. “We sell a lot of products that care, or can be, enhanced by technology.”

Meanwhile, the company will also be ramping up its services offering.

Noel Leeming has offered Tech Solutions – its installation arm – and Open Learning Centre – its training arm – for three and a half years, with the services proving ‘widely popular’.

Edwards says the next phase will see Open Learning Centre training bundled into the Tech Solutions installation offerings from May 02.

“So if you buy a TV, we can deliver it, unpack it, install it, set it up and then show you how to use it.”

Edwards says services is a ‘significant or material’ percentage of business for the company, but the services, sales and revenue that comes with that are just one benefit.

“There’s also the halo effect it has on the business.”