Comment: Selling safe this Christmas – top tips for when the drone customer comes calling

Drones have become the latest ‘must-have’ technology, with more and more people experiencing the enjoyment that they can bring – from photography and videography to simply flying across the UK’s everchanging landscape.

Indeed, it has been predicted that a further 1.5 million extra drones could soon be seen in UK airspace following the Christmas period, with a quarter of festive shoppers keen to purchase one.

However, as the number of first time drone flyers continues to grow, so does the responsibility of various groups to ensure that these new drone enthusiasts are making the most of the technology by flying them safely and legally. And that includes retailers.

Here are five simple ways that retailers can ensure they’re selling their drones safely this Christmas:

1. Keep the Dronecode front of mind (and store!)

If you’re a retailer, it’s vital that you not only understand the Dronecode but are helping to ensure your customers do too. Launched in 2016 as part of the UK’s DroneSafe initiative, the Dronecode is an easily remembered set of rules to guarantee safe and responsible drone use:

Even just keeping a copy of the Dronecode prominently displayed in your store as the shoppers come piling in from the cold this Christmas can have a significant effect.

2. Sort the sale, not just the store

It can be very easy, particularly during the busy Christmas period, to race through your till transactions as you try to get that long queue of inpatient customers down. Yet, if you see someone buying a drone, take a minute to make sure they’re presented with a copy of the Dronecode before they leave.

Or, better yet, if it’s a bigger model, why not pop a copy of the Dronecode within the box itself? 

3. A specialist with a difference

In stores we have often have TV, mobile or even small kitchen appliance specialists, so why not have a drone specialist? Having knowledgeable staff on hand will mean that someone is always there who is aware of the rules and regulations of drone flying, can answer tricky customer questions, and even get fellow colleagues clued up.

4. Be digital, not just personal

We all love the convenience and speed of shopping online. Indeed last year alone online retail sales hit £133 billion in the UK. Therefore, if retailers want to do there bit and help avoid accusations of not advising their shoppers properly, providing links to the website on product pages is a really easy way to get the message across.

5. Be Dronesafe

Getting the population up to speed on drone safety is never going to happen overnight. However, by committing to a set of guidelines, retailers can join the likes of Maplin and Dixons Carphone in supporting the national ‘Responsible Retailer Scheme’ to promote responsible drone use and ensure the drones you sell are being used properly. It might be too soon for this Christmas, but having your Dronesafe approval up in-store for next year’s festivities will show potential customers that you are a store dedicated to giving new drone users the flying start that they’ve been looking for.

As our skies become ever busier with people making the most of the exciting drone technology, the role of retailers becomes ever more important in ensuring customers can have fun without posing a risk to others. Drones are here to stay – the role retailers now have in ensuring they stay for the better has never been more vital. 

By Jonathan Nicholson, assistant director of communications at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).