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MSc students get hands-on with Dixons Carphone digital challenge

05 April 2017

Students have been competing to develop new digital marketing and customer experience ideas, as part of a School tie-up with the electrical and telecommunications retailer.

MSc Marketing and Marketing & Business Analysis students were challenged to create new ideas to merge customers’ online and offline shopping experiences, to improve Dixons Carphone’s omnichannel retail experience.

During the semester, fourteen groups on the Marketing Applications course grappled with the challenge, using their digital analytics and research skills to develop detailed personas and mapping customer journeys to come up with creative and innovative solutions.

Students were also given the chance to work with leading Connexity / Hitwise software, Competitor Intelligence and AudienceView, which allowed them to examine real-time consumer data and gain the essential skills and knowledge today’s marketing practitioners and business data specialists need.

The challenge is the latest activity in the School’s educational tie-up with the retail and service company, which aims to develop teaching and research resources in data science at the Business School.

Launched 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.

After pitching to a panel of representatives from Dixons Carphone and Connexity, MSc students Nikolay Sabev, Kaja Lerfaldet and Shiran Luo were crowned winners for their digital shop assistant concept. Bridging the gap between Dixon Carphone’s high street retail brand, Currys PC World’s offline experience and online live chat function, the panel commended the project as an exceptional example of innovative thinking.

Group Strategist, Nikolay Sabev, said:

“It’s 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.”

Students were encouraged to examine a wide range of emerging trends and tools when considering how they could enhance the customer experience. Runners up, the Revel Communications team proposed a digital business transformation, while the JMJ Consultancy group explored smart screens to enhance the in store experience. Other projects included technologies such as augmented and virtual reality, geofencing, beacons, electronic shelf labels, and chatbots.


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

“Working on real-world briefs and developing skills relevant to the current economy is fundamental to our approach to teaching and learning at 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 proposed solutions 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 University of Edinburgh Business School, said:

“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 is a really unique opportunity for the university and we are very thankful to them 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, said:

“Working with students at the 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 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.”

Offering a unique and valuable experience for students, the Marketing Applications course is part of the wider MSc Marketing and Marketing & Business Analysis degrees. During the year, the course also hosts several guest speakers, with recent contributions from Dixons Carphone, including eCommerce Insight Managers Chris Ward and Tom McCarthy and Paid Search Specialist Maria Kalpachka.

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