British Gas have updated their website recently with the facility for visitors to buy their combi-boiler online. This is no doubt in direct response to companies such BOXT, Heatable and Worcester Bosch’s new Fast Track service.

Unlike BOXT and Heatable, British Gas still offer visitors the facility to book a home survey, as well as get a quote online. This is a good move as not everybody is ready to buy a boiler online.

How Do British Gas Online Prices Compare?

Naturally I went through the journey from beginning to end, partly to test the user-experience, but to also to review their pricing. For a Worcester Bosch 30i British Gas are charging £2,778, which is cheaper than they would quote in-house. They’re also offering 2 years 0% APR, which is a strong benefit. This discounted price is largely because with an online sale there’s no surveyor commission, fuel, van, insurance to pay.

BOXT are offering the same boiler for £1,970 – add to that they are currently offering £150 discount on most installation dates, bringing the price down to £1,820. That’s almost a grand difference. It’s also £400 more expensive than going to Worcester Bosch direct and using their new Fast Track service.

Is Buying a Boiler Online the Future?

Yes and no. First and foremost, not everybody will want to buy a boiler without first having a full physical survey. Add to that a physical survey is required for many types of installation, such as a conversion from regular to combi boiler.

But the combi-combi market is large and growing, and there are a good number of people who are willing to buy a boiler online, as is evidenced by BOXT’s review volume and growing market share.

Does this mean home heating companies should invest in an online system like BOXT? Probably not. To buy a boiler online the consumer will need a significant amount of confidence in the brand. The majority of home heating companies wouldn’t even be considered a brand, certainly not one anybody will have heard of. BOXT have invested heavily in to branding both online and on TV. They also have over 4,000 reviews, and are part owned by Bosch.

Without these elements I don’t believe consumers will have the confidence to buy a boiler online. Plus, part of the allure of BOXT is their cheap pricing, which may well play a strong role in their last set of accounts showing losses of over £2,000,000. Can your heating business afford to make a loss on each install to take market share? Probably not.

Thoughts on British Gas Online System

Overall I wasn’t particularly impressed with how British Gas have implemented their online model and I’ll share my thoughts below;

What I like

  • The very fact British Gas are moving with the times and giving visitors the option to buy their boiler online. British Gas are a household name and have enough brand confidence to trial an online model.
  • I like the fact the visitor is prompted that they’re best doing this at home, due to the required measurements. It saves people wasting time trying to complete the process from work.
  • If you click back several steps, the wizard remembers your prior selections.

What I don’t like

  • I’m not overly impressed with the user-interface, it’s nowhere near as slick or intuitive as BOXT.
  • There’s no indication of how many questions there are, or how long the journey is. This will certainly put some visitors off.
  • Too many questions! Several of which could be omitted from the form entirely, for example “What’s your current situation”. The visitor has already clicked ‘Buy Online’, it’s safe to assume they’re not just browsing.
  • The multi-choice questions require the user to both select and then click continue. These types of input field should auto-step to save time for the user.

Will British Gas Selling Boilers Online Work For Them?

It’s impossible to know, but I think it’s really important that they try. They’re the current market leaders and to not move with the times would be a travesty.

British Gas do have a big enough brand to pull this off, but I am not convinced their pricing is cheap enough. I believe it is BOXT’s pricing that pushes people over the finish line and paying online for their new boiler.

In some respects this move from British Gas helps companies like BOXT and Heatable. It exposes more and more consumers to the very idea of buying their boiler online. It helps normalise the concept.

What are your thoughts? Are you working on a platform to allow your visitors to buy a boiler online? Is it the future?

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