Switching energy suppliers is one of those things you’ll get round to doing eventually, right?

But despite the fact that it’s surprisingly easy, many are still failing to switch, meaning that households on standard variable tariff’s (SVTs) are paying around £330 more per year than those that have.

A new generation of ‘smart switching’ companies are now popping up in order to bridge this gap. Capitalising on so-called consumer inertia, they are using digital technology to make switching even simpler. 

The question is – is there really a demand?

Here’s a bit more info on this new generation of energy-related brands. 

What exactly do they do? 

Smart switching services essentially act like real-time deal trackers. They mostly monitor and compare energy deals, delivering cheaper tariffs as they appear and offering users the opportunity to directly switch there and then. 

Some companies do this via a website, but most have a mobile app, making it even easier and more convenient for consumers to find a cheaper set-up. 

How are they marketing their services? 

Voltz is one example of a new switching service, designed for the 80% of households who “do not have the time or the inclination to visit a comparison site”. 

Its positioning is all about ease and convenience, with a tone of voice that almost makes actively switching sound like more hassle than it's worth. This seems slightly misleading, as again, going about it the regular way isn’t that difficult.

However, from its ‘super easy registration’ to its ‘tap to switch’ option, it probably does make life slightly easier just by allowing you to use the service on your smartphone. 

Voltz makes money by taking a commission from key energy suppliers, meaning that if a cheaper tariff is found with another company, users will be prompted to call in order to switch.  

Flipper is a similar company, but one that aims to go a step further by taking control of the entire switching process on behalf of consumers. Instead of commission, it works by charging customers £25 a year – a fairly acceptable amount considering it claims to save you £50 a year at least.  

Like Voltz, the company promotes a sense of convenience, but focuses a little more on the transparency and honesty of its services. I noticed its website and presence on social media is particularly focused on providing reassurance, using social proof to instil trust. 

Finally, Swuto is a service (like Voltz) that works on commission from suppliers. However, its biggest difference is that it also allows customers to switch on behalf of family members such as children living away from home or elderly parents. 

What are the implications? 

It’s been suggested that the arrival of these new companies could impact how suppliers set out tariffs in future, perhaps offering short-term options with the knowledge that there will be greater demand from smart switching.  

For consumers, this can only be a good thing. 

With favourable reviews from users, and Flipper in particular appearing to gain momentum, we could see many more of these services popping up in future. 

While the concept might sound like it’s merely giving into laziness, it is clear the demand is there. And if it prevents people from paying over the odds on energy bills – why not? 

Nikki Gilliland

Published 9 February, 2017 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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David Hastings, Analyst at Forward3D

the uSwitch app uses the QR scanner to quickly allow you to compare the market. That's pretty cool. Don't know why you haven't mentioned it.

over 1 year ago

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