Are customers ready to buy their boilers online?

New brands are entering the heating industry looking to change the way consumers buy their boilers, with a new focus on websites and apps. But is the public ready to order their heating system online? A new report from Eureka! Research and Installer takes a look:

Purchasing and installing a new boiler is a large and significant expense for households who may experience a fatal breakdown or need to replace an ageing model.  The growth of new online platforms like BOXT and CORGI HomeHeat, represent significant disrupters to the traditional route to market, allowing consumers to select and order themselves and arrange installation, potentially without talking to anyone face-to-face or on the phone.

There is currently fierce debate in the sector about whether this could be a forerunner to a more radical business model whereby some highly recognised brand names – more commonly associated with digital retail – begin to move into the heating market to deliver a similar system.

This month Eureka! Research, in conjunction with Installer Magazine, has conducted an exclusive poll with homeowners to gain a better understanding of what they think of this shift and identify some of the key barriers to adoption.  Download a free copy of the Eureka! Moment report here.

Some of the key findings of the report are:

  • Whilst consumers are becoming increasingly confident in purchasing a bathroom product themselves, just 15% say they would have the confidence to order a boiler directly themselves;
  • Households are currently polarized over whether they would use an automated online service to order a replacement boiler which would also allow them to book a recommended local plumber;
  • Over one third say they would be confident using such a service – confidence is particularly strong amongst men and younger householders (aged under 35);
  • Over 4 in 10 households would not be confident, particularly the case amongst women and more mature consumers, aged 55 years and over;
  • The largest barrier to entry would be possible confusion about selecting the right boiler system for their heating system – over 6 in 10 households state that this would be a concern for them;
  • From a prompted list of brands, consumers were more likely to say that they would trust players more traditionally associated with heating to deliver the proposition – such as CORGI and Gas Safe;
  • Around one quarter of consumers said they would trust John Lewis to offer such a service and 1 in 7 would trust Amazon.

Dave Ruston, Director at Eureka! Research observes: “This topic seems to be the talk of the town in the heating sector currently, but we detected that nobody is measuring consumer sentiment around this model:  the proposition certainly splits opinion amongst homeowners.

Our data begin to highlight that certain households are more ambivalent than others and have particular concerns about product selection, installation and post-installation support. Brands entering into this market certainly have a lot of work ahead of them and we look forward to seeing how attitude evolves in coming months and how consumers react to messaging they hear or read.”

Joe Sharpe, Online Editor at Installer Magazine said: “The Eureka! survey is a much needed barometer of homeowner confidence and trust around this key issue for the industry. New technologies and brand names are entering the market, looking to change the way consumers buy their heating equipment. This report is very interesting for everyone in the heating industry, but it looks like local installers will still be the ideal option for many people in the years to come”.

The full results of the Eureka! homeowner survey can be downloaded here.