Water retail at risk of becoming a two-tier market

Cornwall Insight has published a review of new products and service offerings in the recently opened business water market in its latest insight paper Innovation in the Water Retail Market: One Year On, supported by Water Plus.

The paper highlights that although innovation is starting to occur progress is slow. Steven Britton, Senior Analyst at Cornwall Insight, explains that the first year had been a period of adjustment, as retailers get to grips with the new market. “This has meant their attention has been more focused on getting the basics right rather than developing new service offerings.”

The innovations that are being made are currently concentrated on larger customers, as a result, there is a real risk that a two-tiered market is developing. “While it is understandable that retailers will focus on those customers where margins are highest, the idea that it is harder to offer more bespoke services to SMEs will become a self-fulfilling prophecy if retailers do not pursue and actively engage with them,” said Britton.

The insight paper also reveals that there are still several persistent barriers to innovation that are stopping the market reaching its full potential. For example, it is difficult for retailers to differentiate themselves on price, poor data is leading to inaccurate billing, and there is still confusion over which parties are responsible for specific issues.

Commenting on the barriers, Britton states that “Until these barriers are overcome, the market will continue to find it difficult to reach its full potential.” There are areas for opportunity – the most significant is currently customer service – as this is where the market has the furthest to go.

There is still a long way to go before all the benefits of the new competitive water market are realised. However, the first year appears to have been a good start with many innovative solutions being showcased.

Join us on 26th February for a webinar where Steven Britton and Ed Reed will talk through the major points highlighted in the paper and answer your questions.

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