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JANUARY 2021 | TWICE.COM
TWICE CES 2021 Picks Awards
Grant Morgan, Senior Editor firstname.lastname@example.org @GrantMorgan77
A Fresh Start Is Just What We Need
e made it to 2021! I hope you all had a lovely holiday season last month and are ready to take on the new year and all of it’s unknown excitement and challenges. I know I am! I’m particularly excited to attend the first ever all-digital CES and discover new innovations, tech and see how companies interact with their customers and show attendees. TWICE will be covering the virtual event, and our 2021 CES Picks Awards winners will be highlighted on TWICE.com on January 14 and in a special section in our February issue, so stay tuned! CES has a special place in my heart and my feet! - and every year it’s almost as exciting as Christmas Eve was to me as a child. What new tech will I see? Who will bring the best innovations? I wonder what the wackiest creation will look like and do? These thoughts swirl around my mind at all hours of the day this time of year, and I can’t wait to share my findings with you during and after the show. Aside from the magic that is CES, we still have “real life” to contend with every day. Even more questions surface as I look forward into the future of our industry. Thoughts such as, “Will we be able to stabilize any time soon?”, “What challenges await retailers this year, and how will we respond?, or “Where the heck did all those shipping containers go, and why can’t we speed up the supply chain for crying out loud?”, echo
in my head all day long. I know many of you are anxious and excited to start this new year off on the best foot possible, and I hope you are as optimistic as we are here at TWICE. Great things await, especially for those who are brave enough to go out and discover them and create opportunities. While the global pandemic is still raging, we're most likely going to have to wait a while to gather for conferences and trade shows in-person. This is disappointing in many regards, but exciting in other ways, and we're anticipating some amazing advances in virtual events this year.
“Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” - L.M. Montgomery One of my favorite book characters, Anne Shirley, of author L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, has a great outlook for tomorrows to come. “Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” the precocious orphan says to her guardian, Marilla. I agree with Anne. Every tomorrow is a new day! And as we make it ours, how great will each of those days be in 2021? Be well, stay healthy and embrace each day the best you can - and enjoy CES!
The winners of our AWARD CES 2021 Pick Awards will be announced during CES online on January 14, 2021. Be sure to visit TWICE.com then to see who stood out among the thousands of products introduced at CES 2021. Winners will also be showcased in our February edition. Congrats to all our winners!
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We’d like to offer our congratulations to all of our 2020 TWICE VIP Awards winners, and give a special shout out to our Super VIP Award winner - LG - who won an amazing 8 awards! Visit https://bit. ly/31cUHEd to see all the products entered this year online on TWICE.com.
UPCOMING EVENTS All events are subject to change. Please visit the hosting company’s website for up-to-date information.
NRF 2021 - Chapter 1 January 12–14, 19 and 21–22, 2021 Virtual Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) February 9-12, 2021 Virtual
PrimeTime (Nationwide Marketing Group) March 16-18, 2021 Virtual Summit 2021 (AVB/BrandSource) March 23-25, 2021 Virtual Toy Fair NY May 1-4, 2021 New York City, NY
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JANUARY 2021 | TWICE.COM
The Shift In Consumer Shopping Behaviors And Its Ramifications For Retailers Insights into the changing shopping habits of the COVID-19 consumer By Andrew McQuilkin, FRDI, Retail Market Leader, BHDP Architecture
crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates shopping trends. Before COVID-19, shoppers were gaining more control in the shopping battleground. When the 2020 pandemic hit, this movement exploded, and shoppers became more comfortable making multiple or “omnichoice” solutions to access and shop the products and services they are seeking. Many retailers are now playing catch up to stay in the game. Retailers with weak or no additional channels or options suffered the most during the pandemic lockdowns and gradual re-openings.
NO PREFERENCE SHOPPING To understand this changing retail environment, BHDP surveyed 1,000 individuals who shopped at 25 specialty brand retailers to determine how they plan to shop in the future. The results showed that while at the start of the pandemic shoppers mostly had specific preferences on how and where they shopped, a significant number indicated they now no longer have a preference. This increase in “no preference” shopping removes the control from retailers and puts the shopper in charge. That means retailers need to pay attention and adapt to a new approach that puts shoppers and their expectations, changed behaviors and decision-making emotional drivers at the center of the shopping experience. To address and solve
for this transformation, retailers will need to work more strategically to seamlessly marry online with in-store messaging and experiences to provide omni-choice solutions for all shoppers. Even so, brick and mortar retailers have many obstacles to overcome. Before the pandemic, shoppers were seeking choices in how and where they shopped. A third of respondents preferred online shopping before COVID-19 and many formed new online shopping habits during the pandemic due to COVID-19 restrictions on brick and mortar stores. Additionally, onehalf of shoppers were extremely or somewhat satisfied with their online shopping experience compared to their previous in-store experience. Only 5.5% of respondents were somewhat or extremely dissatisfied with their online experience. One shopper explained, “I don’t feel like it's a treat to go online. I feel like it's a chore. There is no magic of discovery.” Respondents also were asked which environment they feel most comfortable shopping. Only five percent selected Main Street shops and two percent chose city flagship stores. If shoppers are moving to the suburbs, there is less of a need for city flagship and Main Street stores. On the other hand, 48 percent of those surveyed felt most comfortable shopping in indoor and outdoor malls and 27 percent were most comfortable shopping at independent buildings. Retailers can take advantage of this type of real estate by adding drive-up capabilities and other options to satisfy
shoppers’ needs. In fact, it is crucial for retailers to provide multiple omni-choice channels for shoppers as part of an upfront experience—not as an afterthought. These include curbside pickup, walk-up windows, lockers, vending capabilities, and cashless and touchless options. Emphasizing retailers’ strengths Brick and mortar retailers need to capitalize on the strengths they offer over ecommerce retailers. This includes emphasizing convenience, the shopping experience itself, product availability and price. One shopper pointed out, “Why shop online when the store is right down the street?” and another said, “I like how convenient the store is and that I can leave with my item immediately.” Respondents also mentioned finding unique items and discovering new products. “The ability to purchase the new item or arrivals and taking it home that same day and not taking chances of it being sold out online,” was important for one respondent. Beyond focusing solely on price, the retailers that are recognizing and investing in the shopper experience are starting to see some success. They are using a new approach to planning and designing stores, one where all the disciplines involved in conceiving, merchandising, building, and managing the stores leverage a collaborative, shopper-focused, and datadriven process. By leveraging customer data and shopper behaviors retailers can make more informed and empathic decisions, creating meaningful, relevant, and individual shopping experiences. About the Author: For over 30 years, Andrew McQuilkin, FRDI, has served in key design leadership roles in the retail industry. In his role as Retail Leader at BHDP, Andrew is responsible for leading the retail design and architecture team’s expertise in branding, store planning, interior design, merchandising, building architecture and rollout for retail clients. . For more information, contact Andrew McQuilkin at amcquilkin@ bhdp.com, visit bhdp.com or call (513) 271-1634.
TWICE.COM | JANUARY 2021
Planning For Profits With 2021’s Smart Home Trends New trends and demand for professional installation spells “opportunity” John Clancy, Vice President, Residential, Crestron
transform the home with intelligent scenes designed to help support immune health and reduce the transmission of airborne illnesses. These lifestyle changes are also bringing events and social gatherings outdoors, and most integrators are already wellequipped to take advantage of the rise in outdoor entertainment systems. Some homeowners have added outdoor systems, even for the cold winter months, with the addition of outdoor heaters and gas fireplaces. But as spring creeps in, integrators need to be prepared for the season kickoff to handle an influx of outdoor system installations by staying updated on the latest outdoor speakers, lighting, TV, and audio equipment. Each new year brings changes to the smart home market, but 2021 has more than most. Integrators have an opportunity to work with existing clients on upgrades and to grow and connect with new clients this year if they take these steps in the right direction. About John Clancy As head of the global residential business unit for Crestron Electronics, John Clancy is responsible for the sales, marketing strategy, dealer initiatives, end user programs, and product and software development for homes, hospitality, and luxury yachting. In December 2015, John Clancy was elected to the CEDIA Board of Directors. He also serves on the CTA Smart Home Board of Directors and the Home Technology Association Board of Advisors. CRESTRON
ver the last decade, home offices were not areas of great focus. Quite often, most only planned for a room with a desk to sit at with a laptop, with very little in the terms of infrastructure or planning. But now, as homeowners are working from anywhere, a robust home office has become a necessity. Working from home isn’t the only recent change. The pandemic also drove demand for wellness experiences, outdoor entertainment areas, and the resurgence of the home theater. In addition to identifying three of these 2021 trends, Houzz also noted a 58% increase in demand for home professionals. New trends and demand for professional installation spells “opportunity” for residential integrators. Prior to the pandemic, integrators who supported commercial installations may have had exposure to video conferencing and collaboration technology. Now, project requests for home office upgrades are commonplace, and the smart home has become a gateway to connect integrators with enterprise-grade communications technology. Crestron introduced a suite of home conferencing products that make it easy for integrators to offer upgrades to a home office, living room, or learning space. Integrators must remember that while video conferencing is ubiquitous today, homeowners may not yet understand the
breadth of smart home and conferencing technologies available to them, such as Crestron HomeTime, a single solution like the Crestron Home Audio Conferencing System, and automated scenes like “On A Call” that use an indicator light outside the door to the home office to show that a family member is in a meeting. Working and learning at home has also boosted the importance of lighting, and it’s pushed homeowners to consider wellness experiences and routines. Integrators can create scenes tuned to the homeowner’s new lifestyle, like a soft wake-up with smart shades that let sunlight into bedrooms each morning and scheduling a smart thermostat to begin to warm up the office up at 8:30 a.m. Wellness technology in the smart home is also advancing. Crestron and Delos recently partnered on an integration of Crestron Home and the Delos DARWIN Home Wellness Intelligence Network that can
JANUARY 2021 | TWICE.COM
Higher-End Audio Offers Opportunity To Dealers In 2021 Higher-end home audio solutions provide opportunities against Average Selling Price regression and COVID-era sales Paul Burgess, Executive Vice President, Sales, Enclave Audio
he home entertainment retail landscape was unique this year because most, if not all, of the alternatives to at-home entertainment experiences were taken off the board. Unable to spend disposable income on experiences or travel, consumers instead turned their dollars towards home entertainment products. Though certainly accelerated by pandemic-era lifestyle shifts, the growth of the home entertainment retail sector did not start with the pandemic. For 2021, retailers will not only be working to maintain 2020’s double-digit sales growth resulting from the pandemic, but they will also have to do so while battling the normal depreciation in Average Selling Prices (ASP) for the home entertainment category.
STAVING OFF REGRESSION ON MULTIPLE FRONTS
HIGHER-END AUDIO OFFERS OPPORTUNITY Offsetting shrinking ASPs and decelerating sales volume is a challenge
without a singular solution, but high-end home audio equipment presents an alluring opportunity for dealers to stave off regression associated with entry-level home audio and other products like televisions. While the increased commoditization of entry-level home audio products like a soundbar allows consumers to sidestep dealer involvement, it is the equipment that is a performance step above that allows the dealers’ value to remain in place by demonstrating in their stores and educating on their websites. You can buy a soundbar practically anywhere. That is not the case for higher-end solutions. If a consumer is going to spend a thousand dollars or more on a home entertainment product, they want to protect their investment by purchasing through an authorized, reputable reseller. The ASPs on this sort of equipment also exhibit far less precipitous deflation than televisions. On top of all that, the true theater-like surround listening experience of a high-quality home theater audio system is something an ordinary soundbar just cannot reproduce. Consumers are willing to pay for that experience. Given the same opportunity for exposure, products like the Enclave CineHome true wireless audio 5.1 surround systems sell at a rate of 2:1 on the THX PRO system versus the entry-level CII, with respective retails of $1599.98 and $1099.98. (They are also just as simple to set-up as a soundbar.) Higher-end home audio solutions give dealers the opportunity to buttress themselves against the factors of ASP regression and COVIDera sales, while simultaneously providing customers with an experience they will surely appreciate. ENCLAVE AUDIO
While sales of home entertainment products are likely to decelerate once people can go outside again, there remains optimism that the prolonged time at home has given people a renewed – and lasting – appreciation for quality home entertainment solutions. The consistent deflation in ASPs of home entertainment products presents dealers an equally intimidating challenge. For some products in particular, this deflation is stark. According to industry sources, heading into the
COVID era of 2020, soundbar ASPs had fallen 8.6% for the first quarter to just over $212. And midway through the year, the average price for a 65-inch TV in the second quarter period was $644, around $200 lower than the same time a year ago. There is a range of reasons for the enduring erosion of home entertainment ASPs within the context of 2020 and 2021. Two in particular that stand out prior to 2020 are the expansion of electronic equipment production in East Asian markets that dramatically increased the scale at which home entertainment products could be manufactured, and supply chain improvements that eased logistical burdens. These factors took a backseat during the pandemic as many East Asian facilities halted production and nations limited international import/export. Once the pandemic subsides these efficiencies will return. Add to that the demands of a U.S. consumer market that has been trained to expect more for less when it comes to technology, plus the elimination of the windfall in sales that COVID provided, and retailers face a daunting task to reach 2021 revenue goals.
TWICE.COM | JANUARY 2021
Synergizing Your Smart Lighting And Shading Mix For Wellness Scott Stephenson, Director of Product, Motorization, Hunter Douglas
ne in five Americans moved in the last year, according to the Pew Research Center, sparking an increase in home projects spanning from start-from-scratch custom builds to family home facelifts. While homeowners outfit their new spaces, they’re considering both aesthetic and technology. A synergy between the two is apt to become the biggest trend this year. As homeowners consider how their home can support their wellness and routines and create the right environment for productivity throughout the day, energy levels, and moods, dealers have an opportunity to inject technology. Demand for the connected home has risen: the IFDA reports that homeowners are seeking design with “modern conveniences,” and “sensoractivated everything.” As the smart home has advanced it has become increasingly design-friendly, and this new synergy is an opportunity for dealers. But to deliver the benefits homeowners expect from smart home technology, it needs to work together impeccably with the design of the home. Lighting is at the center of design and technology synergy: It’s critical to the room’s design and it can also support circadian rhythms and routines. With a smart system, automated routines tailored to the homeowner’s lifestyle filter the light for stunning ambience or create blissfully darkened rooms. For any room in the home, especially high-traffic rooms like the bathroom or kitchen, the technology
delivers on its true purpose to properly light the space and promote comfort, at all times of the day without hassle. Creating these lighting routines requires both an automated lighting system and automated shading. Smart lighting only controls the artificial lighting, so it must be paired with smart shades that control the natural rays coming in through the windows. The integrator would cooperatively schedule both to create the complete experience in the home, and the lighting technology would be simply concealed, whether installed as part of the home’s wiring or added as a retrofit with smart lightbulbs. Automated shading can be more difficult to add in synergy with design, as many of these products are manufactured by technology companies and don’t offer the breadth of color, fabric, and style options designers are used to for ‘dumb’ shades. When available, diverse smart shade style options also offer increased functionality for a lighting scheme. Lighting designers can also become part of the design process to consider the level of room darkening or light filtering is needed. For example, a smart room darkening shade creates the perfect environment for resting, rising with the sun after a restful night to softly invite filtered sunlight inside for a gentle wake. An automated top-down, bottom-up shade paired with smart lighting control, gives homeowners natural light in bedrooms, bathrooms, and home offices while maintaining their privacy. With scenes, smart systems can automatically provide the perfect light for early evening activities like cooking dinner or relaxing with a book. These features are maximized when there is synergy in technology capability and design options, so as not to sacrifice beauty for functionality. There are ever-expanding
While homeowners outfit their new spaces, they’re considering both aesthetic and technology
design options from Hunter Douglas, including over 20 styles that are completely customizable in a range of colors, fabrics, and styles. There’s technological synergy to consider, too, where the automated shades must work with any lighting or smart home system to create these complex lighting scenes. When the full home’s lighting control technology is synergistic, designers and dealers can deliver. With the growing number of smart technology applications in the home, there is opportunity for dealers to offer a wider range of systems to their existing clients and the market of new homeowners. About the Author: Scott Stephenson is a veteran of the home automation and smart home space, bringing over 14 years of experience in product design to bring solutions that delight both end-users and professionals. Joining Hunter Douglas in 2017, Scott manages the product and integration strategy for all automated shading solutions. Prior to joining the Hunter Douglas team, Scott spent seven years at leading global smart home provider Control4 as a senior product manager for their lighting and comfort products.
10 CES 2021
JANUARY 2021 | TWICE.COM
CES 2021: The Global Stage For Innovation ‘Live Anchors’ Set For CES 2021 To help navigate the show, CTA announced a live anchor desk will be part of CES 2021, featuring familiar faces from the tech media world. This “central command” will help attendees navigate the digital experience, hear the latest news and view interviews on critical tech topics.
Featured anchors include:
Justine Ezarik (iJustine)
Host + Tech Content Creator
Tech Host & Content Creator
Tech reporter for KTLA-TV Channel 5 in Los Angeles
Actress, Producer and host of Star Trek’s The Ready Room on CBS
TWICE.COM | JANUARY 2021
Narrowing The Search For Innovation At CES 2021 Panning for Gold in a Digital Stream By Giles Sutton, co-CEO, CEDIA
edge in terms of relationships and experience as the category matures.
TECHNOLOGY FOR A LIFE BEST-LIVED I’ll be looking specifically for brands in emerging categories like wellness. As Gordon van Zuiden, Founder and President of CyberManor, Inc. put it to me, “We know we need to think beyond core applications like AV, lighting and security to remain competitive.”
most from their workouts by monitoring and regulating air and water temperatures for muscle recovery? I’ll also be looking for Active Assisted Living (AAL) products that could help customers with lost physical or cognitive function through custom interfaces or automation. Being clever or interesting is not enough; each new product should be part of a story about how customers can achieve the lives they want.
old prospecting at CES is a timehonored tradition: combing the floor for innovations that could genuinely impact people’s lives and businesses. Discovering new products in a virtual tradeshow is tricky, however. Without a floor to physically browse, attendees have to be more intentional. Instead of knowing exciting new technology when they see it, they must, to a certain extent, already know what they’re looking for. This difficulty in identifying promising new products without physical tradeshows is part of why CEDIA created Propel. Propel is a member affinity program designed to connect custom technology integrators to new products by offering integrators preferential pricing and product training across enrolled brands. As the leader of the program and the interim co-CEO of the association, Propel has directly informed how I will approach CES this year, filtering for innovative products with strong potential business upsides for custom technology integrators. In evaluating newly announced products during CES, I’ll be looking for technologies on the “peak” that could be viable right now, but only in the hands of an experienced professional integrator. By partnering directly to share knowledge, context, and customer feedback, brands and integrators can build a mature use case that glides over the “trough of disillusionment.” Integrators benefit in the long run by being first to market with new innovations, giving them an
During CES, I’ll be looking for products that can reinvent ordinary home experiences, from making coffee, to exercising, to getting a good night’s sleep, in ways both subtle and profound. According to van Zuiden, “These are the kind of relationships that allow us to be whole home integrators, anticipating and fulfilling all of our clients’ technology needs.” Wellness is a particularly promising emerging category for custom integrators, and I will continue to seek products that can enhance every stage of customers’ routines. What products can help customers get the
THE RISK/REWARD RATIO
Seeking to partner with brands on the bleeding edge entails a certain amount of risk; the days following CES will entail a great deal of research to uncover any fools’ gold. Still, the potential rewards for successful early adopters are great. This risk/reward ratio can be somewhat balanced by paying especial attention to established brands with in-house product incubators. Some of the most storied consumer brands in the consumer remain extraordinarily innovative; I’ll be especially interested to see how major appliance brands are approaching the smart home space. Ultimately, the risk of time lost sifting through a virtual tradeshow for gold is far less than the risk that innovation will pass by unnoticed. I’m setting guardrails around the market maturity and categories I’m looking for, but keeping an open mind with respect to where the most exciting new innovations will originate. If I can identity a handful of new brand partners with the potential to give our integrator members a real edge in 2021, the Virtual CES tradeshow will be time well spent.
14 CES 2021
Microsoft Provides Digital Venue For CES 2021
he Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® has selected Microsoft as its technology partner for the first-ever, all-digital CES® 2021. Microsoft will provide solutions, support and the underlying cloud technologies that will enable the all-digital event platform for CES 2021, happening January 11-14. The event experience will use Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Power Platform to deliver an exhibitor showcase, media events, conference programming, networking events and more. “CES is a truly global event, unique in its scale and audience diversity,” said Karen Chupka, executive vice president of CES. “For an all-digital CES, we sought a platform that allows attendees from around the world to participate easily and securely.” “After a rigorous search process, we selected Microsoft for its technical expertise, global scale and experience in creating compelling digital event.” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA. “Microsoft is a global innovation leader and longtime supporter of CES. We look forward to working with them to bring CES 2021 to the world.” Microsoft Corp. Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela added, “Digital events are an opportunity to re-imagine what’s possible. By harnessing the power of the Microsoft cloud and broader partner ecosystem, we’re excited to help CTA transform CES into an all-digital event. From hosting our own global, virtual-only events to empowering our customers and partners in leading theirs, we have a lot of learnings to share and look forward to creating an event full of the compelling experiences that people have come to expect at CES.”
JANUARY 2021 | TWICE.COM
Parks Associates Sets CONNECTIONS Summit At CES 2021 New research from Parks Associates finds one-third of smart device owners in U.S. broadband households have increased usage of their devices during the COVID-19 pandemic, including 46 percent of smart door lock owners. The firm will discuss ownership and usage trends of smart home, security, connected health, and home automation solutions at the 15th annual CONNECTIONS™ Summit: Smart Home Growth Strategies, taking place virtually January 14, 2021, in cooperation with CES® 2021. Confirmed speakers for firm’s CONNECTIONS™ Summit at CES include executives from Arlo, Best Buy Health, SimpliSafe, AirTies, ioXt Alliance, and more. "As market adoption and usage increase, new challenges in the consumer experience are emerging, which could impact current and future growth," said Patrice Samuels, Senior Analyst, Parks Associates. "A growing percentage of smart home device owners now experience multiple problems with their devices each year, and 16 percent of U.S. broadband households report home network problems have disrupted workat-home activities during COVID-19." CONNECTIONS™ Summit, sponsored by
Alarm.com, AmTrust Financial Services, and AirTies, features sessions on smart home technology and services, connected health, data privacy, value-added services, and home security. Parks Associates analysts and industry executives will explore the impact as work, school, and entertainment use cases increase demand on smart home functionality and capabilities. Speakers will also discuss new consumer behaviors in DIY and new opportunities emerging as households adopt and integrate multiple connected devices. Parks Associates surveys 10,000 broadband households each quarter, providing a rich data set with trending for at least five years. The firm will feature its market insights and consumer data during the webinars and virtual conferences throughout 2021.
For more information, visit www.connectionssummit.com. To speak with an analyst or to request research, contact Rosey Ulpino at rosey@ parksassociates.com, 972.996.0233.
TWICE.COM | JANUARY 2021
5 Consumer Electronics Brands Working With The Health Care Industry In 2020 Stepping up to help health care professionals around the world By Devin Partida, Editor-in-Chief, Rehack.com
he annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is fast approaching after a landmark year for tech companies. In light of this event, it seems fitting to look back at some of the most significant moments in consumer electronics this year. One of the most significant trends throughout 2020 was Big Tech’s eagerness to work with health care professionals amid the pandemic. It’s hard to talk about 2020 without at least mentioning COVID-19. It’s the reason why CES 2021 will be all-digital, and it led to some monumental partnerships between consumer tech companies and the medical industry. With that in mind, here are five of the most notable consumer tech brands working with the health care sector.
2020 saw two pandemics — one of a deadly virus and one of misinformation. Google fought both by allocating a quarter of a billion worth of ad space to health care authorities. With this platform, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other officials could raise awareness about COVID19 and how to slow its spread. Google also partnered with rival Apple to create a contact tracing system. The system used phones’ Bluetooth technology to discover if people may have been exposed to the virus. It then alerts affected users so they can seek medical attention or quarantine.
Apple joined Google in enabling smartphone-based contact tracing, but it didn’t stop there. In early April, the tech giant announced that it would create face shields for frontline health care workers. These pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) can ship 100 flat in a box and be assembled in under two minutes. The millions of face shields Apple shipped weren’t the end of the company’s use to health care, either. As going to the hospital became an increasingly risky endeavor, Apple’s devices provided an ideal platform for remote consultations.
Sony recognized the utility of using Apple devices for telehealth and acted on it. The company updated its medical imaging platform NUCLeUS to support remote access. With this update, doctors and nurses could use an iPad or their phone to check on patients, oversee treatment or view medical data. Telemedicine services like this were crucial throughout 2020 as hospitals grew overcrowded. With government aid expansions allowing Medicare to pay for telehealth visits, services like this one from Sony could finally catch on.
With COVID cases skyrocketing, many hospitals found themselves understaffed and underprepared. Companies like Panasonic
helped by manufacturing hospital robots to fill in the gaps while staff was busy with patients. Panasonic’s bots cleaned rooms and transported drugs so doctors and nurses could focus on treatment. Panasonic plans on commercializing these robots in the future, but for now, it’s keeping them where they’re needed most. The health care industry’s embrace of robotics this year is a trend that will likely bleed into 2021 as well.
A more recent example of consumer tech companies partnering with health care professionals is Microsoft’s new medical AI. In October, Microsoft revealed a partnership with several other tech companies to develop a computing platform for clinical algorithms. This system will enable health care organizations to create and test potentially life-saving AI systems. This platform will help create resources like an algorithm that determines which patients are in the most urgent need of a blood transfusion. Microsoft’s Azure cloud server also ensures that the system will remain secure, complying with HIPAA laws.
THE TECH INDUSTRY HAS BEEN CRITICAL IN 2020 2020 has been a challenging year for many people, and unquestionably for the health care industry. Without the support of tech companies like these, it could’ve been a lot worse.
16 Innovative Products
JANUARY 2021 | TWICE.COM
Medic-lead Readies Hand Hygiene Solution U.K.-based start-up Medic-lead ltd will begin manufacturing its Handsteco Artificial-Intelligence (AI)-enabled wash basin in 2021. The company has developed an innovative AI algorithm embedded hand wash dispensing console with integrated faucet that can be installed on any wash basin sink. The algorithm controls the hand wash dispensing, displays the WHO advised hand hygiene techniques to the user, uses real time hand gestures tracking and image analysis to verify that all the technique has been followed before restarting the faucet. The faucet does not start unless the user has completed the hand hygiene technique as displayed. The company says Handsteco is the first to help in implementing 100 percent WHO hand hygiene technique compliance, considered as the holy grail of the most effective hand hygiene for every user, every time for real-time infection prevention. This wash basin can be installed in workplaces (offices) and public places (malls, etc.) by businesses across industries to improve hand hygiene quality for staff and customer safety. The AI-algorithm-controlled faucet uses up to 60 percent less water for every hand wash episode. Medic-lead has developed customized packaged hand wash cartridges that use 60 percent less plastic and are made of paperbased, biodegradable material. Only these cartridges can be installed in the AI-enabled consoles. The AI-enabled console can also be used to dispense hand sanitizer and placed near patients in hospitals as a means of minimizing, if not eliminating, health care-acquired infections. Founded by medical professionals and engineers, Medic-lead is listed as a "Tech for Good" start-up in Web Summit 2020 and is raising seed investment.
SenseGlove Nova Offers A New Sense In VR/AR Training At CES 2021 SenseGlove is showing the working prototype of its new SenseGlove Nova--a new version of haptic force-feedback gloves, which are designed specifically for professional VR training. An updated flexible form-factor combined with the best of haptic technologies and smooth hand tracking allows its users to feel shapes, textures, stiffness, impacts and resistance in virtual reality easier than ever. With this level of usability, the touch-enabling technology will help upscale all kinds of VR training programs. SenseGlove Nova is developed in collaboration with SenseGlove research customers, and possesses the features required for VR training: motion-tracking, force feedback, vibrotactile feedback and an updated form-factor for easily donning and doffing of the gloves.Â Research has shown that realistic haptic interactions with virtual objects decreases the amount of mistakes made compared to traditional virtual reality training. SenseGlove patented force feedback technology enables lifelike interactions, crucial for complex task training. The mechanism is inspired by the human tendon muscle system. By applying resistance through its magnetic friction brakes, SenseGlove emulates the feeling of object density and size. The SenseGlove Nova incorporates four brakes dedicated to each finger from thumb to ring finger. Each brake delivers up to 20N of force. It is equivalent to the weight of a two kg brick on each finger, which makes for unparalleled force feedback. The different amounts of force, transferred to the fingertips through mechanical wires, allows it to enhance training simulations with a wide variety of virtual objects, from robust engines to fragile light bulbs.Â The company is looking to ship its first gloves in March 2021.
A-T Adds Bluetooth To Popular Turntable Audio-Technica is showcasing its AT-LP120XBT-USB direct-drive manual turntable, which adds wireless Bluetooth capability to its popular AT-LP120XUSB model. The AT-LP120XBT-USB offers a host of useful features including USB connectivity, an included phono cartridge, a built-in phono preamplifier and more. Priced at $299, the AT-LP120XBT-USB has an elegant black finish and is designed for outstanding performance and convenience. Just pair the turntable with compatible Bluetooth headphones, wireless speakers or other devices for cord-free listening. It supports the Qualcomm Bluetooth aptX codec for superior wireless audio quality. In addition, the AT-LP120XBT-USB can be used as a wired turntable. The Audio-Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB plays 33-1/3, 45 and 78 RPM records. It's supplied with a high-quality AT-VM95E Dual Magnet phono cartridge that is pre-mounted on an AT-HS6 universal halfinch-mount headshell, and is compatible with any Audio-Technica VM95 Series replacement stylus. The turntable has an S-shaped tonearm with a hydraulically damped lift, adjustable tracking force, and dynamic anti-skating. The AT-LP120XBT-USB includes a built-in phono preamp, and its USB output allows the turntable to be connected to a computer to convert records to digital audio files. The turntable incorporates additional professional-quality features including a DC servo direct-drive motor; die-cast aluminum platter with felt mat and speed indicator; variable pitch control with quartz speed lock; damped base construction for reduced lowfrequency feedback coloration; and a removable plug-type light to aid with cueing in low light. The AT-LP120XBT-USB is supplied with a removable dust cover, 45 RPM adapter, cables and accessories.
AirPop Bows AirPop Active+ Smart Air Wearable AirPop is introducing its new smart Air Wearable--the Active+ Smart Mask with Halo sensor. Built to help wearers get a deeper understanding of their respiratory health, the Halo sensor bridges the gap between outside air and internal respiration. With the ability to capture breathing-related data and correlate that information with real-time data about air quality and location, the Halo sensor can accurately tell wearers when to replace their mask’s filter, and help wearers unlock new biometric data that can be useful during everyday use and sports activities. The AirPop Halo sensor--which is integrated into the AirPop Active+ Smart Mask--works in tandem with the AirPop app, which uses data collected by the sensor to give a visual overview of the wearer’s breathing behavior, breathing cycles, and even the pollutants that the mask has blocked during use. The Halo can also be used in Active Mode, which tracks metrics like breaths per minute, breaths per pace and more, all of which can be seen in the Activity tab. Because the sensor tracks the wearer’s breathing, the app can also notify the user when it’s time to replace AirPop’s snap-in filters, which block >99 percent PM0.3, including dust, allergens, particulate matter and microbial particles. A unique QR code that can be scanned by the AirPop app when it’s installed, registers that a legitimate new AirPop filter has been inserted. The Halo sensor connects to an Android or iOS device through Bluetooth, and the coin-cell battery lasts six months before needing to be replaced. The AirPop Active+ is washable, and is built with a 360-degree sealing, medical-grade soft touch membrane. Priced at $149.99, the AirPop Halo, with an AirPop Active+ Smart Mask and four filters are available in the U.S. and Canada from www.AirPopHealth.com this month and from select national retailers in early 2021.
18 Innovative Products
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Bosma Sentry Offers Ultimate Home Security With Bosma’s Sentry video doorbell, users are instantly notified when someone rings their doorbell. See and talk to guests from your phone like a video call with Real 2-way Audio. Busy or missed the notification? No worries. Sentry can automatically play a prerecorded voice message to your guest and have them leave a voice message to you too. Tired of seeing false motion alerts from drive-by cars, swaying twigs, moving shadows? Sentry uses Advanced Motion Detection to only capture motion of people, so you will only receive notifications that are relevant. Monitor your front door in vivid color and clarity, even at night. You can also switch back to regular black-and-white night vision. Local and Cloud storage is available—user’s choice! Choose to store video clips on the cloud for up to 30 days or store them locally with a micro-SD card up to 128GB, or both! Advanced AI security means you don’t need to constantly check alerts on your phone to see what’s going on. Let the AI do it for you. With Sentry’s Facial Recognition feature, you always know whether it’s a stranger or a familiar person at the door. When a package is delivered to your door, Sentry will automatically notify you, so you don’t need to worry about when your packages are delivered. Thanks to Sentry’s Active Theft Prevention feature, your packages are protected when you’re away. When Sentry detects that someone is stealing your package, it can automatically sound its built-in 100dB siren to scare off the thief. Connect Sentry with Bosma Aegis smart lock and many other peripheral sensors to build a truly smart home. Priced at $139.99, the Bosma Sentry is available now.
Bodyfriend Issues Massage Chair to Combat Pandemic Ailments Many have called 2020 the year of disruption and endurance-both mentally and physically. With the world feeling the crush of COVID-19 fatigue, lockdowns, overwork, childcare, home schooling and more, it can feel as though the country is collectively suffocating. Bodyfriend, a health and wellness solutions company based in Seoul, South Korea, found a way to help reduce the persistent, pandemic-related physical and mental exhaustion through its new Elizabeth Medical Massage Chair, slated for global release in March. It may be hard to believe that a massage chair can be a medical solution to many of the ailments faced during the pandemic. However, the company's newest massage chair was added to its lineup to address the compounding stress, anxiety and depression faced by so many through pairing a blood pressure and lifestylemanagement app with tailored massage programs. Elizabeth Medical is a product that systematically links with the healthcare application and various physical therapy methods to manage a user's blood pressure. The chair relies on data pulled from the app to create a programmatic massage that acts as a therapeutic tool. It activates the parasympathetic nerve and blood vessel dilation through thermal massage and respiratory rate management through its integrated speakers. Bodyfriend is currently working on building out its software and hardware capabilities by integrating what it calls a Healthcare Robot, which will be designed around artificial intelligence and IoT (internet of things). This integration of machine learning and other technologies will be able to send messages to the doctor's office when abnormal vital signs are detected. It will also build on algorithms for connecting the customer's healthcare and psychological data to connected apps, medical specialists and more.
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7 CE Predictions For 2021 Which CE trends follow the direction of innovation and consumer interests this year? By Devin Partida, Editor in Chief, ReHack. com
onsumer electronics (CE) trends change every year. Based on innovation and consumer interests and trends, the direction of CE follows the biggest influences. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was a major influence on everything from remote work to health care. Other developments from mixed reality (MR) to cybersecurity have also been invaluable. For the coming year, these predictions are what will shape CE.
1. REMOTE WORK The world shifted to remote work in 2020. This change required computers, microphones, cameras, keyboards and plenty of new household appliances like coffee makers. As the coronavirus pandemic continues throughout 2021, a major consumer electronics trend will be a continued focus on remote work and tech. Consumers should keep an eye out for high-quality cameras and microphones, newer apps that focus on working from home and new gadgets. Televisions, monitors, routers, noise-canceling headphones — retailers will focus on what consumers need while at home.
2. ROBOTICS Robotics and automation were big in 2020. As people shifted to remote work, in-person manufacturing and cleaning fell to robotics and automatic systems to carry out. 2021 will take this trend and make it a norm. Robots can handle countless repetitive and tedious tasks within the span of a day. Workers can then focus on other tasks while
remote. In fact, one robot could carry out the work equivalent to 3 - 4 human employees.
3. VR AND AR In the gaming world, virtual reality (AR) and augmented reality (AR) have been on a steady rise. Games like “Pokémon Go” use AR abilities to bring games into the real world. PlayStation and Facebook have been developing countless VR games as well. Retailers will continue this focus in 2021 but also expand it to other industries. Virtual try-ons allow consumers to try on clothes remotely, and virtual furnishings allow customers to place items in their homes before buying. VR tours for real estate will also increase.
4. VOICE SEARCH With the growth of home hubs and virtual assistants like Siri, Google and Alexa, voice searching has become a popular way to gain information and shop. Consumers can use their voice to find channels or content on TV, look up a question or even make purchases. This integration will grow in consumer electronics in 2021. These popular voice assistants may pop up more in vehicles and TV systems. They offer ease-of-use for whatever system they are a part of — a beloved characteristic among consumers.
5. 5G The new network is here. 5G is bringing faster speeds than any previous network, which means better connectivity. New gadgets like the iPhone 12 models are already normalizing this network as the next step. 2021 will carry on the innovations that 5G brings. Smart cities will be able to connect better, people can communicate faster, and streaming can happen quicker. 5G will no
doubt be a central topic at the upcoming CES 2021 event — taking place from January 11 to January 14 in 2021.
6. CYBERSECURITY With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, cybercriminals have seen it as an opportunity. With people searching for information and trying to connect remotely, the cyber world is open to potential risks. In fact, experts saw an 800% surge in cybercrime activity in August 2020 alone. Consumer electronics in 2021 will focus on improving security protocols in every way possible. End-to-end encryption, biometrics and multi-factor authentication are all common features that retailers and manufacturers should seek to improve on.
7. HEALTH CARE The health care industry has arguably changed more than any other field throughout 2020. With the rapid spread of the virus, people must stay in their homes. Going to doctors’ offices becomes a risk that telehealth solves. This focus on health has led to other consumer electronics innovations that will spread further in 2021. Wearables like Apple Watch and Fitbit have heart monitoring and fall detection abilities that are sure to get other wearable companies to compete for health care services.
TECH EVOLUTIONS These consumer electronics trends of 2021 will shape how retailers create strategies and change the game for customers. Moreover, these trends are natural evolutions that grow and push the boundaries of what’s possible. 2021 is shaping up to be the most progressive year for tech ever.
20 Tech Trends
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Executive Insight: 5G Almost Makes It To Mainstream 5G is right on the brink of becoming mainstream as we set off into 2021 Scott Peterson, Senior Analyst, Gap Intelligence
oday, the majority of smartphones sold by US merchants are not 5G. However, as we set off into 2021, 5G is right on the brink of becoming mainstream. Showcased at trade shows for years, and available to US consumers since early 2019, 5G hardware had its breakout year in 2020, and the future looks fully-5G from here. This upcoming spring 2021 smartphone refresh cycle will nearly complete the saturation of 5G across the US omni-channel product landscape as a year’s worth of momentum and diversification continues. Year-over-year, there are 3,234% more 5G smartphones available for US consumers to purchase across retail and online channels than there were at 2019’s end. This growth
equates to 1,467 unique 5G SKUs, a spectacular improvement over the 44 buying options that holiday 2019 shoppers could choose from. 5G’s progress now earns the segment a 38% share of the total US omnichannel product landscape, a major
advancement from its 1% share at the close of 2019, but not yet a market majority. What fueled 5G’s running away year? It was not huge consumer demand and enthusiasm. It was not the comprehensive network coverage of US carriers. It took two things: hardware price erosion and Apple getting involved.
PRICING PLUMMETS FOR 5G DEVICES One year ago, $840 served as the minimum net price threshold for a 5G smartphone. Today, one can be obtained as low as $179. The dramatic 79% decay in pricing for 5G smartphones reflects the diversification of a segment where new contenders strive to be “affordable 5G” options. Every price tier of the US smartphone market now has 5G models, and support for the next-gen network appears across prepaid, postpaid, and unlocked products. Outside of Sony, every participant in
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the 5G segment has smartphones available below $600 today, and three of the segment’s latest entrants, Apple, Google, and TCL, sit with introductory options between $400 and $530. The pioneers of 5G, LG and Samsung, now race to meet T-Mobile’s REVVL 5G at the segment’s opening sub-$200 price point in order to meet a massive pool of buyers who remain apathetic to flagship devices.
APPLE ENTERS THE ARENA 5G began with, and grew with Samsung in the US market, but even after its careful nurturing, Apple is now the one bringing the next-gen network to the masses. Samsung represented over 75% of the 5G smartphones offered in retail and online, and over 80% of all 5G advertising throughout 2019. 2019’s only other 5G players, LG and OnePlus, nurtured respective ~10% shares against Samsung in the aforementioned metrics, but everyone’s shares now contract as Apple’s weight is tossed into the market. The fall 2020 launch of Apple’s iPhone 12, a robust four-model lineup, all with 5G and all widely distributed, was the definitive catalyst for the segment’s rise. Almost instantly, Apple took control of the 5G market with an iPhone 12 generation that makes up 61% of the 5G products available today, while Samsung settles for second at a 31% share, down 46 points on-year. Samsung still remains the 5G marketing leader with a 73% share of 2020’s 5G advertising, although Apple immediately claimed a 20% share of the full year’s activity with its iPhone 12 lineup, impressive considering that the generation has only been available for three months.
WHAT THE 5G FUTURE HOLDS The discussion around 5G stands ready to become a conversation about the mainstream smartphone market at large, not just a segment, because nearly every US smartphone launched in 2021 will support 5G. If not, that hardware faces no chance at gaining visibility in the US market. Brands and merchants proved this during 2020 with the products that they chose to launch and assort. In 2020’s first half, 15% of the new smartphones entering the US omni-channel were equipped for 5G, while 78% of those introduced in the second half of the year were 5G-capable, revealing a clear prioritization.
Cloud Processing, Pandemic Augur Shifts in Gaming Trends Morris Garrard, Futuresource Consulting
he most topical theme within gaming is the launch of next generation consoles by Sony and Microsoft in Q4 2020. Both vendors have seen significant, excess demand for their hardware, selling out of available stock just minutes after launch, highlighting the intensity of consumer interest in gaming as an outlet for both entertainment and socialization during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a question mark arising as to whether this may be the last generation of console hardware, given the threat posed by cloud processing services emerging from the likes of Amazon and Google. Whereas this threat will prove substantial in the long term and competition among gaming platforms is expected to fragment the current status quo, it is expected that both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X will outperform their predecessors, with total sales of next generation consoles forecast to exceed 170m units between 2020 and 2024. The emergence of cloud processing services is also changing the ways in which gamers access content, removing the need for dedicated (and expensive) gaming hardware, enabling a much a larger segment of budgetconstrained, would-be gamers to
enjoy AAA (top tier) content via nongaming devices such as standard PCs or even via smartphones. Alongside this, certain services such as Amazon Luna and Xbox Game Pass are giving consumers access to the latest AAA games via monthly subscription, a business model which has been slow to gain traction within gaming relative to music and video entertainment, but one which promises to develop rapidly over the next five years. The pandemic has also had a significant impact in the market for gaming accessories, with consumer uptake of gaming headsets in particular growing as a result of both increased usage for gaming, as well as satisfying excess demand for office headsets as consumers transitioned to virtual working environments. Gaming headset shipments are forecast to increase by 26 percent in 2020, amounting to over 38m shipments, with gaming keyboards and mice also exhibiting growth of 17 percent and 20 percent year on year, respectively.
JANUARY 2021 | TWICE.COM
Sharp Launches Two New Smart Countertop Microwave Ovens Alexa enabled microwave ovens takes the guesswork out of cooking By TWICE Staff
harp Home Electronics Company of America (SHCA) unveiled its first smart countertop microwave ovens featuring Wi-Fi connectivity and certified “Works with Alexa” compatibility for handsfree operation using voice commands in two sizes, a mid-sized 1.1 cu.ft oven (SMC1139FS) and family sized 1.4 cu. ft oven (SMC1449FS). "At Sharp, we remain committed to our brand promise of Simply Better Living. We create products that are simple to use, better than the competition, and support your choice to live a healthier lifestyle," says Peter Weedfald, Senior Vice President of SHCA. "We are proud to build on our decades of
experience designing innovative cooking appliances. Now you can just say “Alexa, microwave fresh vegetables” for a hands-free way to select the Fresh Vegetables preset on your Sharp Smart Countertop Microwave Oven.” “Using the Alexa app or an Alexa-enabled device, you can now use your voice to start or stop the microwave, add time to the current cooking cycle, or even cook at a specific power level to make operating your Sharp Smart Countertop Microwave Oven simpler,” says Jim Sanduski, President of SHCA. For example, just say, "Alexa, defrost 2 lbs. of meat," and Alexa will start defrosting at the appropriate time and power settings. Plus, on the family-sized SMC1449FS, discover more preset cooking items for foods that do not appear on the control panel like broccoli, brussel sprouts, or chicken wings using just your voice. Our wide selection of Alexa commands takes the guesswork out of cooking. In addition to the Alexa enabled features, both the midsized and family-sized smart microwave ovens are also specifically tuned to achieve optimal popping results from Orville Redenbacher’s® Microwave Popcorn. Simply
touch the "Popcorn" button to choose the Classic Size (3.3 oz) or Single Serve Mini Bag (1.16oz) of Orville Redenbacher's® Microwave Popcorn, or use your Amazon Echo device or the Alexa app and say "Alexa, Microwave Classic Popcorn." The One-Touch controls, Express Cook, and the Carousel® turntable system make cooking and reheating a breeze. The modern brushed stainless steel finish is easy to clean and complements any style. The clock on the extra-large, white LED display will set to the correct time once connected to your Wi-Fi. Imagine never having to reset the clock after a power interruption! Now, that is Simply Better Living. The Sharp Smart Countertop Microwave Oven is available in two sizes: SMC1139FS, 1.1 cu. ft. offers over 30 voice commands, and 10 more food presets available by voice only. MSRP: $149.99 SMC1449FS, 1.4 cu. ft. offers Sensor Cooking, over 70 voice commands, and 50 more food presets available by voice only. MSRP: $169.99 Amazon Echo or other Alexa-enabled device not included. Not all features are available in all models.
These products are available for purchase at select retail locations and shop.sharpusa.com.
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Thermador Introduces Freedom Refrigeration Collection Innovative new collection features integrated refrigerator, freezer and wine column configurations By TWICE Staff
hermador, the iconic American luxury home appliance brand, delivers with the option to choose between Masterpiece®, Professional or custom panels, the innovative new collection includes integrated refrigerator, freezer and wine column configurations, enabling the ultimate design freedom within any area of the home. “With a pulse on innovation and consumers’ evolving needs, Thermador continuously enhances the lifestyle within a home – both within the kitchen and beyond,” says Beatriz Sandoval, Director of Brand Marketing for Thermador.
FRESH FOOD COLUMN The new refrigeration columns are customizable for a variety of configurations and lifestyles. The Freedom® Refrigeration Collection’s award-winning innovations include customized storage solutions, accommodating gallon bins as well as uniquely designed delicate produce bins, available as an accessory, and a touch screen TFT display panel to control settings such as individual temperature, lighting and Open Door Assist. Designed for personalization in the kitchen and throughout the entire home, the Freedom® Refrigeration Collection is also available in Under Counter configurations – perfect for keeping relaxation top of mind in an in-home yoga den, or for focusing on selfcare in the personal retreat cloffice.
FREEZER COLUMN From storing food right after returning from the market, to freezing winter soups for
future use, SuperFreeze technology brings contents to the ideal preservation temperature and gets cooler, faster. Additional features include theater lighting for improved visibility, Soft-Close drawers and an in-door ice and water dispenser. Now with full-width ice drawers, the new Freedom® freezer has the capacity to hold more eye-catching Thermador Diamond Ice, which features a unique shape that melts slower, keeping drinks colder for longer. Ice and water are also now cleaner than ever, as the newly redesigned water filter removes an astonishing 99.9% of sediments. It is so advanced, that it has received certification by NSF, a leading regulatory agency.
WINE REFRIGERATION An absolute must for wine connoisseurs, Thermador wine columns can hold up to 92 bottles or up to 99 bottles with a shelf addition. Offering up to three zones, the columns
ensure wines are stored at the optimum temperature and humidity. Wenge wood diamond dowels cradle each bottle, and a presenter shelf puts favorite bottles on display. A uniquely designed feature, the ball bearings and rails are now completely out of sight. The collection also includes under counter wine reserves. Featuring brighter LED lighting to provide visibility, Soft-Close door hinges and Door Open Alarm, under counter reserves offer dualzone temperature management for keeping wine at the appropriate temperature, as well as UV resistant tempered glass that protects wine collections from dangerous ultraviolet rays that can cause premature aging to the bottles. For more information about the new Freedom® Refrigeration Collection, please visit the Thermador website.
JANUARY 2021 | TWICE.COM
Venture Capital vs. Equity Crowdfunding: Which Is Better For Your Business? By Max Crawford, StartEngine
any startups have been conditioned to think venture capital (VC) is the best source of funding. While venture capital has its benefits, it may not be the right method of fundraising for your business. In a recent webinar, Josh Amster, StartEngine’s VP of Sales, dove into the differences between venture capital (VC) and equity crowdfunding (ECF), comparing each method’s strengths and weaknesses to help clarify which funding pathway is right for you.
INVESTMENT ACTIVITY TODAY
To start, it’s important for entrepreneurs to understand how investors are reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the VC space, we’ve seen a considerable drop in startup valuations. VCs are also taking fewer meetings and investing in fewer deals. Some VCs are even ceasing all new
investment, choosing instead to distribute capital across their existing portfolios to keep those businesses alive. (Fig 1) This is reflected in the chart below, which shows how VCs have been affected by COVID: (Fig 2) This dual decrease in the total amount invested and volume of deals made has also occurred in the past two economic recessions (the dot-com crash of 2001 and the housing crisis of 2008): Equity crowdfunding activity tells a very different story. Using our own data, the average daily amount raised on StartEngine has steadily increased more than 4x since the pandemic began, and we believe is showing no signs of slowing down. “The demand is… as high as it’s ever been,” Amster said. “Companies are hungry for capital and there’s less investment out there available to them.”
DEAL FLOW Another key area to compare venture capital
and equity crowdfunding is deal flow. The roughly 1,000 VC firms in the US made 11,000 investments in 2019 (2,500 of which were late-stage deals). Considering there are 5M small businesses in the US, that means only a small fraction of business secure VC funding. “[There is] extreme selectivity on the venture capital side, and most entrepreneurs are shut out of being able to secure a VC investment,” Amster pointed out. On the other hand, the 54 equity crowdfunding funding portals in the US hosted 735 Reg CF offerings in 2019, of which 143 were StartEngine campaigns. While the total number of crowdfunding campaigns is still far lower than the number of VC investments, the annual number of deals per platform exceeds the number of VC investments per firm (13.6 vs. 11) – meaning StartEngine’s 143 campaign count is over 10x the average annual number of campaigns per platform. When also considering that equity crowdfunding hasn’t existed as a fundraising option for nearly as long as venture capital, we expect to see this gap widen as more platforms crop up and expand their capacity. From a geographical perspective, 80% of VC money goes to companies in the five largest metro areas, compared to only 42% of equity crowdfunding capital, indicating that equity crowdfunding creates more equitable access to capital for companies in all areas of the country. When it comes to the gender gap, only 11.5% of VC money went to companies with a female cofounder, while 27.9% of crowdfunding capital went to companies with a female cofounder. While we’re proud to be contributing to this positive change, we know it’s still not where it needs to be. “Entrepreneurs of any kind
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and brand champions
• Exposure – By marketing their equity
crowdfunding campaigns, companies reach new audiences Sales – Companies can increase sales by offering investment perks like discounts Steady Capital – Equity crowdfunding allows companies to always be raising, rather than raising capital in fits and starts.
EQUITY CROWDFUNDING CONS PERKINS COIE
• No Guarantees – There is no certainty •
should be able to get access to capital,” Amster stated.
DEAL SIZE Entrepreneurs and founders have been trained to believe they should follow a certain fundraising progression. While we believe startups should “Always Be Raising”, they can still follow something similar to the “traditional” process with equity crowdfunding, as deal sizes tend to be comparable. The average VC seed round weighs in at about $1.7M, while the average VC Series A is $15.6M. This can easily be replicated with equity crowdfunding, where companies raise an alternative to pre-seed and/or seed rounds under Reg CF for up to $5M (once the maximum is raised from the current cap of $1.07M), followed by an alternative Series A via Reg A+ for $10M-$15M (out of a possible $50M, which should increase to $75M in the near future).
STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES Of course, venture capital and equity crowdfunding each have positives and drawbacks. Let’s explore them.
VENTURE CAPITAL PROS
• Deep pockets – With hundreds of
millions (if not billions) of dollars to deploy, VCs offer startups a large amount of capital very quickly Experience – As a more established form of capital investment, VCs have
a company will meet its equity crowdfunding goal Disclosures – Because equity crowdfunding offerings are open to the public, companies must be transparent with financials and reporting Costs – There are legal, accounting, platform and marketing costs associated with equity crowdfunding campaigns
years of experience guiding highgrowth companies Network – VCs have access strategic connections and valuable resources Validation – companies that secure capital from a reputable firm gain immediate credibility and prestige
VENTURE CAPITAL CONS
• Exclusivity – Less than 1% of companies get VC funding
• Valuation – VCs put significant
downward pressure on startup valuations to increase their upside Control – VCs seek advantageous terms (like board seats, preferred shares and anti-dilution protections, among others) to gain control at the expense of founders, which can lead to scenarios where the founders are forced out against their will Pressure – In order to generate a quick exit scenario that will bring returns to their portfolio, VCs push startups to grow at unsustainable and unhealthy levels
EQUITY CROWDFUNDING PROS
• Control – Companies usually offer non-
voting, common shares via equity crowdfunding, allowing founders to maintain control of the company Brand Ambassadors – Equity crowdfunding allows startups to build armies of hundreds (if not thousands) of investors, who then become customers
CONCLUSION 51% of companies that raise money on StartEngine return to raise another round of capital on the platform. “That speaks volumes to the benefits these entrepreneurs see in raising capital from the general public,” Amster said. We see the benefits, too – so much so that we “eat our own dogfood.” In other words, we have repeatedly raised money for ourselves on our own platform – to the tune of over $20M from more than 10,000 investors over the course of four Reg CF and two Reg A+ raises, one of which is currently active. “We want to maintain control of our company,” Amster said. “We believe in the benefits equity crowdfunding provides and we’re not interested in securing VC investment.” If you agree, you can apply to raise capital on the StartEngine platform today!
To learn more about StartEngine’s offering, please view StartEngine’s offering circular and risks related to this offering. StartEngine is not accepting investment from Florida in this offering. To invest from Florida, please contact StartEngine directly at contact@ startengine.com.
JANUARY 2021 | TWICE.COM
GE Appliances Starts Up New $80 Million Dishwasher Manufacturing Line The new Louisville, Kentucky line and other production increases to add more than 280 new jobs at Appliance Park
E Appliances (GEA), a Haier company, announced the startup of its latest investment – a new $80 million dishwasher manufacturing line at its supersite in Louisville, Ky. with a completely redesigned extra-large capacity dishwasher platform. The new dishwasher line, together with production increases in other product categories, will add more than 280 new jobs at Appliance Park as GEA increases output to meet demand. This investment is the second dishwasher investment in 2020 and follows the announcement in June of $19 million to expand the facility. “At GE Appliances, we’re on a mission to become the leading appliance company in the United States, and our $80 million investment to add a new dishwasher line at Appliance
made easier for production employees. The result was improved manufacturability and a high-quality product designed with consumers in mind. In addition to great performance, the new dishwashers have an updated appearance, electronic controls and true flush installation that were also designed to appeal to builders and property managers. Over the last two years, GE Appliances has increased its workforce by more than 2,000 employees in the U.S. and invested more than $740 million at its nine manufacturing plants. More than 7,100 employees work in Louisville, Kentucky at the company’s headquarters and largest manufacturing operation with company operations generating an annual economic impact of $11 billion in the state. Park is our latest leap forward on that journey,” said Cinthy Fanning, vice president for dishwasher products for GE Appliances in a statement. “At a time when our research has shown families are using their dishwashers more than ever, we’re excited to expand our product offerings—and our U.S. manufacturing capabilities to give consumers access to more of the appliances they want and need.” The $80 million investment will add robotic and other advanced manufacturing equipment to eliminate difficult jobs, improve ergonomics and enhance the manufacturing environment. As part of the design process, engineering and manufacturing teams worked on the assembly line to experience how the manufacturing process could be
About GE Appliances GE Appliances strives to make the world a better place, and its team is committed to leading in the communities where employees live and work. GE Appliances believes there is always a better way. It sells products under the Monogram®, Café™, GE Profile™, GE® Appliances, Haier, and Hotpoint brands. Products include refrigerators, freezers, cooking products, dishwashers, washers, dryers, air conditioners, water filtration systems, water heaters, wine & beverage and small appliances.
For more information, visit www.geappliances.com.
30 Product Showcase
JANUARY 2021 | TWICE.COM
2021 CES Innovation Challenge Finalists Announced By P&G Ventures Finalists to pitch their Innovations during CES 2021; winner gets $10,000 and a chance to partner with P&G Ventures BY TWICE Staff
&G Ventures, the early stage startup studio within P&G (NYSE:PG), has announced the four finalists for the third annual P&G Ventures CES Innovation Challenge. With CES being held as an alldigital event in 2021, the Challenge will culminate with representatives from the selected startups pitching their products virtually to a panel of expert judges on the P&G LifeLab stage during CES. Despite the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, P&G Ventures remains committed to supporting entrepreneurs and providing them a platform to share their innovations. The finalists are: Fluo Labs, LLC, represented by Chief Strategy Officer Anne-Marie Kovacs (@amkovacs), transforms how people treat their seasonal allergies using a patented handheld device that uses light therapy to provide drug-free relief.
• Glimpse Diagnostics, represented by
CEO Dr. Courtney Hill, provides families with an accurate at-home ear
infection diagnosis with artificial intelligence and treatment from the comforts of their home.
• SAVRPak, represented by Chief
Technology Officer Bill Birgen (@bill_ birgen), offers a patented food packaging technology that keeps food fresh and reduces food waste by removing moisture from the air.
• spotLESS Materials Inc.,
represented by Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Birgitt Boschitsch (@BirgittMB), is a collection of non-stick coatings designed to use less water and less aggressive cleaners to keep surfaces clean.
"At P&G Ventures, we know that entrepreneurs are the source of some of the very best ideas when it comes to
TWICE.COM | JANUARY 2021
About Procter and Gamble P&G serves consumers around the world with one of the strongest portfolios of trusted, quality, leadership brands, including Always®, Ambi Pur®, Ariel®, Bounty®, Charmin®, Crest®, Dawn®, Downy®, Fairy®, Febreze®, Gain®, Gillette®, Head & Shoulders®, Lenor®, Olay®, Oral-B®, Pampers®, Pantene®, SK-II®, Tide®, Vicks®, and Whisper®. The P&G community includes operations in approximately 70 countries worldwide. Please visit http://www.pg.com for the latest news and information about P&G and its brands.
KONKA Enters The Smart Home Market Will introduce new smart home products including video doorbells, smart camera, smart plugs, and smart lighting.
ONKA North America, LLC, a subsidiary of the KONKA Group, a leading digital home entertainment manufacturer in China, will enter the smart home market with the debut of its new KONKASmart lineup at Digital CES 2021. The new KONKASmart product lineup will be available in North America beginning in Spring 2021 and will be showcased at the Digital CES 2021, January 11-14, 2021.
THE “KONKASMART HOME” KONKA is entering the Smart Home segment with a curated lineup meant to create the new KONKASmart Home. In addition to Smart TV, KONKA will now offer Video Doorbells, Smart Cameras, Smart Plugs, Smart Switches, and Smart Lighting. For ease-of-use, KONKA is utilizing the KONKASmart OneApp, allowing all KONKASmart products to be controlled by one App. Plus, all products
solving consumer problems," said Leigh Radford, Senior Vice President and General Manager, P&G Ventures. "Even with CES going all-digital for 2021, we are delighted that we can still host our annual CES Innovation Challenge to discover and celebrate groundbreaking new products and shine a spotlight on the entrepreneurs behind them." The winner of the 2021 CES Innovation Challenge will receive $10,000 from P&G Ventures, the opportunity to pitch to the M13 investment team coupled with mentoring sessions, a complimentary invitation to the EY Strategic Growth Forum®, and chance to partner with P&G Ventures, and access to the expertise and capabilities developed at P&G over the company's 180-year history. Judges include Leigh Radford, Julie Setser, Senior Vice President of R&D at P&G Ventures, Kristina Rogers, Global Consumer Industries Leader at EY, and Courtney Reum, Co-Founder of M13. P&G will return to CES 2021 for its third consecutive year with an all-new, virtual P&G LifeLab exhibit that provides consumers an entirely new way to experience a behind-the-scenes look at how P&G's portfolio of innovations is impacting consumers' homes, as well as our planet. While the Innovation Challenge is part of P&G's CES LifeLab exhibit, P&G Ventures invites everyone to watch the Challenge online for free by registering on Eventbrite by January 13. To stay up-todate on the Innovation Challenge and news follow P&G Ventures on LinkedIn and Twitter (@PGVstudio).
are Wi-Fi, so no hub is needed. In addition, KONKA Android TVs will integrate with the new KONKA Smart Cameras. With CameraView, when someone presses the KONKASmart Video Doorbell, the image can automatically appear on the TV screen. In fact, all KONKASmart Cameras can be viewed on the TV screen, making the KONKA Smart TV the hub of the KONKASmart Home. KONKASmart products will also feature key interoperability features such as works with Google Assistant, works with Alexa, and works with IFTTT. Details on all the new KONKASmart products will be announced at Digital CES 2021. For more information, visit KONKAUSA.com.
Visit https://bit.ly/2Qw9gxT to find a showroom near you.
32 Product Showcase
JANUARY 2021 | TWICE.COM
LG Spotlights OLED Gallery Design Models
G OLED TVs with Gallery design provide users with a pleasurable entertainment experience via vivid picture quality, lifelike sound, and
outstanding AI features. Yet they also offer considerable value through their aesthetic beauty and seamless spatial integration. Boasting a Zero Gap wall-mountable
design, lightweight and slim form factor, LG OLED TVs with Gallery design are premium, stylish home entertainment solutions. Their minimal depth affords users more space in the living room while the design of the integrated bracket and the relative lightness of the product ensure minimal damage through the mounting process. On top of the Zero Gap wall-mountable design, The OLED TV's Gallery design can transform the living room into a private gallery with its Gallery Mode. Along with superior picture quality of OLED technology, this feature allows these TV's to act effectively as a digital canvas when not in use, displaying artistic masterpieces and breathtaking landscapes. Compared to LCD TVs, LG's OLED models weigh less and use more efficient, ecofriendly components that require less resources and have less impact on the environment. These premium models also show a consideration for users' health
Canon Strengthens Pixma G-Series Megatank Printer Line Canon U.S.A. is introducing three additions to the family of Pixma G-series MegaTank Printers: the Pixma G3260 MegaTank Wireless all-in-one printer, Pixma G2260 MegaTank all-inone printer and Pixma MegaTank G1220 singlefunction printer. These printers are ideal for high-volume printing environments such as home offices or classrooms, or anywhere a user needs a printer with excellent connectivity and
convenient, high-quality printing. Each of these Pixma G-series MegaTank printers features a front-facing, built-in refillable ink tank system, making it
simple for users to monitor ink levels and refill when needed. The new ink bottles do not require the user to squeeze the bottles to fill the ink tanks, and fill-up stops when the tank becomes full. The black ink provides up to 6,000 black and white pages per bottle, and the color ink bottles combined provide up to 7,700 color pages. The Pixma G3260 and Pixma G2260 printers deliver print speeds of up to 10.8 images per minute (ipm) in black
TWICE.COM | JANUARY 2021
1MORE Has Three More Innovation Awards 1
MORE has received three 2021 CES Innovation Honoree Awards, marking 12 such awards in the past four years. Taking home awards this year are the 1MORE ComfoBuds Pro ($129), ColorBuds ($99) and ColorBuds Pro (A.K.A., ANC True Wireless Pro $149) In-Ear Headphones. Announced along with the award winning headphones are the ComfoBuds ($99) and the smart watch plus true wireless headphone combo, the Sound Band Duo ($199). The new collection of true wireless headphones and smartwatch will be available later in Q1 while the ComfoBuds and ColorBuds are available now on Amazon and 1MORE’s direct website. The ComfoBuds
and white (B/W) and 6.0 ipm in color. The Pixma G1220 printer offers print speeds of up to 9.1 ipm in B/W and 5.0 ipm in color. Both the Pixma G3260 and G2260 MegaTank all-in-one Printers provide users with the option to print, copy and scan. The Pixma G3260 printer is equipped with Wi-Fi capabilities, and users can now dictate print commands through the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant enabled smart speaker devices. By simply using a compatible smartphone and the Canon Print app, users can easily access Pixma Cloud Link to print photos and documents from popular online social platforms and services. The Pixma G3260, Pixma G2260 and Pixma G1220 MegaTank printers are available for suggested retail prices of $199.99, $179.99 and $159.99, respectively.
have a special launch discount of $10 off for a limited time. The ComfoBuds and ColorBuds are 1MORE's fourth and fifth true wireless product to hit the market this year and represent 1MORE's effort to bring comfortability, and portability to the true wireless category, while still delivering the 1MORE signature sound that 1MORE is known for. The two headphones come packed with top-ofthe-line features like four ENC Microphones for crystal clear calls, instant paring for hassle-free use, Bluetooth 5.0 for extended range and sound/call quality, auto pause/play touch controls, IPX5 water and sweat resistance and 1MORE sound tuning for whatever you're into. Rounding out 1MORE's CES product launches is the Sound Band Duo, part smartwatch and fitness tracker and part compact true wireless headphones in an all-in-one package.
Moorebot Scout Robot: Monitor, Discover, Explore Moorebot is rolling out its new Scout autonomous AI robot. Scout’s applications range from an intelligent mobile home camera, a pet companion, a surveillance tool for handyman and an inspiring, modern learning toy for kids. Moorebot's capabilities include Smart Home integration with either Amazon Alexa or Google Home, monocular SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping), and audio and visual intelligence that enables Scout to recognize, follow and interact with individual persons and pets. Do you worry about your pet's wellbeing while you are away from home? Scout will help watch over it and its twoway audio feature lets you listen and even talk to your pet. Owing to its small size (70mm x 100mm x 110mm), Scout can be used to autonomously monitor a home, office or business, going under furniture and into hard-to-reach locations. For professionals and businesses, Scout can perform inspections in hard-to-reach areas. Equipped with a 1080P FHD camera and night vision, you can remotely guide Scout into almost every space of a house, office or building. Scout will be available for sale for $149 at Amazon and at the Moorebot website in April 2021.
JANUARY 2021 | TWICE.COM
Nationwide Marketing Group Launches Dedicated Performance Groups For Servicing Dealers Peer groups provide networking support and exclusive training opportunities to members who service appliances
lthough Linley Dew grew up in the appliance sales and service business, he still wondered sometimes, as a second-generation co-owner, how his store was performing compared to others of a similar size. Especially when it came to service. “Before I was in any kind of networking group, I felt like I was on an island for my business,” recalls Dew, whose parents founded the family-owned appliance and HVAC business Dew’s in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., in 1947. “There was no one I could talk to. But once I started reaching out to other independent retailers, I found a network that I could share things with, and I didn’t feel so alone. They kept me from going down rabbit holes and helped me stay on the right track to make my business successful.” Now a veteran of several industry networking groups, Dew’s positive experiences have led him to a new role – as ambassador for one of Nationwide Marketing Group’s new performance groups designed exclusively for servicing dealers. The groups, which launched in August, each feature eight to 10 non-competing retailers and are broken down according to how many technicians each has in the field. Currently, two groups exist, with a third also in planning stages. Dew’s group, which meets monthly via video conferencing, focuses on retailers with one to five technicians and sports members from across the United States.
“It’s really like a family,” Dew says of the bond that’s created in a performance group. “It’s real. Your group members are there to talk through problems with you, offer advice and keep you from making some of the same mistakes they did. You learn about how others are working in the business, and because you’re not in the same marketplace, you can give that information freely because you know you’re not competing against them. And the group is beneficial for everyone. I’ve been working in this business all my life. But I can still learn something from a member who’s only been around for a few years because we all have different experiences. It’s just one of the best things you can do for your business.” Beth Grayson agrees. As president of the three-location Home Appliance Sales and Service located in Northern Ohio, Grayson serves as an ambassador for one of Nationwide Marketing Group’s six-plustechnicians performance groups. “One of our most recent meetings focused on hiring and where to find techs,” Grayson says of her group, which meets virtually twice each month. “What we came up with at our store, which I shared with my group members, is an apprenticeship program that grooms and grows our own technicians. Whether we’re moving people from in-house into the program or bringing in talented people from outside, we’ve been able to find some really good technicians with great soft skills who are ready and eager to learn.”
Xiaomi Breaks Into U.S. Market With Tekmovil As Its Official Distributor Products can be purchased from offline retailers nationwide and online By TWICE Staff In addition to celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year, Xiaomi has made its U.S. debut through its new official distribution partner, Tekmovil. Xiaomi owns over 2,000 IoT and lifestyle products globally in the smart home appliances; TV & entertainment; wearables and mobility categories. “US consumers are looking for smart and innovative technology that adds value in every area of their lives,” said Claudia Rodriguez, Founder and COO of Tekmovil in a statement. “We are excited to showcase MI products by Xiaomi products. We have found a formula that consumers want.” Popular Xiaomi items include Mi TV Stick; Mi Smart Compact Projector, Mi Smart Plug, Mi Home Security Camera 360° 1080p and the Mi Bedside Lamp, which is voice controlled. Xiaomi products can be purchased through Xiaomishop.us and many authorized national retailer partners including: Amazon.com; Walmart.com; B8TA.com. Additional online and retail locations, such as B&H Photo, will be announced in the near future.
For more information, visit www.tekmovil.com.
JANUARY 2021 | TWICE.COM
BrandSource Announces Virtual Format For Summit 2021 On-site, and in-person events to resume next summer By TWICE Staff
ollowing a successful online transition in August, AVB/ BrandSource, the leading marketing and merchandising organization for independent retailers, is returning to the Internet for its first major trade event of 2021. After leading the way with the industry’s first Virtual Convention last summer, and while awaiting the return of conducive conditions for on-site shows, AVB will take to the web again for a virtual version of its annual spring Summit, slated for March 23-25, 2021. “The safety of our members, vendors and employees is and always will be our top consideration,” explained Jim Ristow, CEO of
AVB/BrandSource in a statement. “In-person events of this scale take months to plan and execute. With all the uncertainty concerning the pandemic, we felt it was important to make this call now and plan accordingly. While our first choice always is to meet with our members and partners in person, I am very excited about the way Summit 2021 is already shaping up. I am really looking forward to it.” Looking ahead on the BrandSource calendar, Ristow also revealed plans for the group’s return to on-site events. “Our plan is to take our 2021 summer Region Meetings to a whole new level,” he said. “These will once again be in-person, with enhanced member engagement activities already in the planning stages. The regional meetings are just around the corner and are sure to be
New Age Electronics Extends Latest Amazon Products To Retail Channel Selection includes 4th generation Echo, Ring Video Doorbell line and more. By TWICE Staff New Age Electronics, distributor of consumer electronics and gaming products, announced that it has expanded its agreement with Amazon to extend an innovative selection of new products to the retail channel. “Amazon continues to launch exciting new products that will help our retailers set themselves apart from the competition,” said Fred Towns, President, New Age Electronics in a statement. “This product
expansion comes at a pivotal time for our customers as consumers are spending more time at home and seeking the very latest in home entertainment, security and connectivity.” The expansion provides access to an array of new products including the fourth generation Echo, Echo Dot with Clock, and Echo Dot Kids Edition; Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite; Ring Video Doorbell line; and eero line for wholehome Wi-Fi. To support these leading products, retailers can utilize service and support offerings through New Age Electronics
met with great anticipation and participation.” As in past years, Summit 2021 will put member dealers on the inside track with cutting-edge innovations; the latest appliance and furniture introductions; industry trends and updates; and three days of vendor trainings and educational sessions. Among the latter: a special presentation by bestselling author and personnel engagement expert Eric Chester on “How to Find and Keep Great Employees AVB CEO Jim Ristow and the extended BrandSource organization will return to a virtual platform in March.
in the Worst Labor Market Ever.” Most of all, Summit 2021 will leverage an enhanced platform to bring together BrandSource members and affiliated dealers from across the continent to share their insights, best practices and friendship with fellow independent retailers. Details of the Summit 2021 program are now being finalized, and members, vendors and guests will be notified when registration goes live on a redesigned AVB Events website.
including its unique Build a Box delivery program. The program includes collaborative planning, forecasting, and replenishment; bundling; extended assortment; pallet shippers; comprehensive services; electronic software downloads and more. “We are pleased to continue working with New Age Electronics as we bring our latest devices to customers,” said Shelley Salomon, Vice President, Sales and Marketing at Amazon in a statement. “With New Age’s expertise and extensive service and support offerings, stores will be well-positioned to help customers upgrade and expand their smart home devices this holiday season and into 2021.”
To learn more about Amazon through New Age Electronics, call 800-234-0300 or email naesales@ synnex.com. For more information about New Age Electronics, visit www.synnexcorp.com/ newageelectronics.
JANUARY 2021 | TWICE.COM
D&H Sees 15 – 20% Growth In Retail Sales Since May
&H Distributing, provider of consumer, home networking, and SMB technologies to the North American channel, announced it has seen double-digit growth in retail sales in 2020. As consumers searched for safer shopping environments and embraced trends like curbside pick-up that met their convenience, the distributor saw significant increases in its retail ecommerce business. Since the onset of COVID-19’s stay-at-home restrictions in April, retail sales at D&H have grown steadily within the 15% to 25% range monthly. Gains were led by an impressive growth of 87% in the PC gaming category through the first half of D&H’s fiscal year to-date (which began May 1). This is due in part to the launch of new gaming consoles from partners such as Microsoft this year and additional strong showings from
manufacturers like NVIDIA, MSI, and HTC. Key growth categories supported the work-from-home and learn-from-home trends that emerged as a result of stay-athome mandates. This included products such as mobile computing devices, home Wi-Fi solutions, displays, webcams, and peripherals. These areas will see ongoing increases as workers and students continue to deal with a combination of on-site and virtual attendance requirements in early 2021. Products in the “kitchen and outdoor” categories also performed well this year, reflecting the new role of the home as a round-the-clock base of operations. The Emergence of “BOPIS” Retail sales were considerably bolstered by the “buy online – pick-up in-store” trend, which allowed consumers to patronize both big box and local retailers, avoid venturing
far from home, and still maintain a controlled, safe shopping experience. And the same way work-from-home scenarios have come into favor for many workers, curbside shopping is gaining preference among consumers. This paradigm is predicted to stay in place even after COVID19 subsides, now that shoppers have acclimated to the model. “Traditional ecommerce is surging, as would be expected in an atmosphere where consumers are intent on a safe shopping experience,” said Fred Eddy, D&H’s vice president of retail sales in a statement. “We expect this to continue to be the focus until summer of 2021. The concept of ‘Black Friday’ has also diminished as a phenomenon in 2020. Promotions started earlier, which spread retail spending more equitably across October and November, as opposed to a Black Friday/Cyber Monday rush.”
Visit www.dandh.com for more information or call (800) 877-1200 for more information.
Giving Back Is Almo Employee Focus In 2020 Despite the many pandemic-related challenges faced in 2020, employees at Almo Corporation have still focused on being grateful and giving back Despite the many pandemic-related challenges faced in 2020, employees at Almo Corporation (#AlmoGivesBack) continue to move forward with a focus on being grateful and giving back through participation in numerous local and national outreach efforts. Blood donations, food and toy drives, and participation in physical activities such as walking and golf charity events framed up the fall and holiday season for Almo employees. “There are so many people in need right now and our employees recognize this and want to help in every capacity possible – I’m humbled by their passion and willingness to donate time and resources with gratitude,” Warren Chaiken, president and CEO, Almo Corporation said in a statement. “Our business model centers around serving the
needs of our customers and community. Almo employees are living this model every day. Having the ability to improve the lives of others is a powerful privilege that comes with a sense of obligation. Acting on this allows us to create meaning by making the lives of others better, whether they are loved ones, people in the community or people across the nation.”
FOOD DONATION Almo donated nearly $4,000 to the Somerton Interfaith Food Bank in Philadelphia while making significant donations of non-perishable food items to local food banks across the country, including The Assistance Center of Towson Churches in Maryland, and Long Island Cares – The Harry Chapin Food Bank in New
York. As a result, hundreds of families had food on the table for Thanksgiving.
BLOOD DRIVE Almo teams across the country donated as part of the Red Cross Blood Donation program, which is helping to save many lives.
AMERICAN RED CROSS DISASTER FUND With the large number of hurricanes and wildfires raging across the country, even affecting Almo employees, partners and customers, many Almo employees chose to make monetary donations to the American Red Cross Disaster Fund, offering support to those in dire need.
TWICE.COM | JANUARY 2021
ProSource Supports Make-AWish® Central And South Texas With $30,000+ Donation Generous donations from a ProSource member and vendors add $20,000+ home theater for a Wish Kid who loves movies and candy By TWICE Staff
roSource continues to support MakeA-Wish® Central and South Texas despite the pandemic and the inability to hold the annual fundraiser. In addition to a $10,000 cash donation from the ProSource organization, the ProSource member and vendor community stepped up alongside the group to contribute an additional value of more than $20,000 in donated products and pro bono design and installation hours to create a home theater for Wish Kid Miles. "Miles is a resilient boy and he loves movies and candy," said Miles' father, Jason Embry in a statement. "This is a special place in his house and serves as a reminder of the journey we have been through together and the large community of people who have supported us, from those we know to those we do not know. He has developed a love for Chicago, the city where he had his surgery. We go back several times a year for checkups, and he calls it his 'secret hideout city,' and he loves the Chicago Bears and Cubs." The home theater system that Miles wished for was organized and installed by ProSource Power member, Macauley
Technologies, LLC who worked with the homeowners and a custom home builder in the Austin, Texas, market. Under the project management direction of Bryan Arnold, Vice President of Technical Operations, they contributed their time as well as additional products to complete the installation. The ProSource vendors responsible for the contribution of equipment include AudioQuest, Control4/SnapAV, Origin Acoustics, Screen Innovations, Sony Electronics, Sound United and, SurgeX. The Wish Reveal was hosted by Miles' family as a surprise on Saturday, Dec. 12, with Bryan Arnold and Ian Shaw, VP of Business Development from Macauley Technologies, in attendance, joined by Jason Russell, Vice President, Residential Sales at Screen Innovations. The event unveiled not only the theater room but also featured a time-lapse video of the project from start to finish with guest appearances by Jessica Paskon, Vice President of Finance and Operations at ProSource; Jeff Goldstein, Head Of Sales Custom Installation Channel at Sony Electronics; Kevin Zarow, Vice President – AV Specialty and Custom Integration at Sound Unite; Jason Russell; and Bryan Arnold.
"We are so fortunate to have an organization like ProSource support our mission of creating life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses and most importantly building resilience for the family as a whole," said Kathrin Brewer, President and CEO of Make-AWish Central and South Texas in a statement. "They have supported our organization and families tremendously in the past, and their passion and energy making Miles' home theater wish come true despite the pandemic underscores their commitment to making sure every child can keep wishing." "We are so proud of our organization and the generous donations of time and equipment from our partners to make one little boy feel so special," said Jessica Paskon, Vice President of Finance and Operations, ProSource in a statement. "Tens of thousands of volunteers, donors, and supporters advance the Make-A-Wish vision to grant the wish of every child diagnosed with a critical illness. We are honored to play our part in supporting their dedication." About Make-A-Wish Central & South Texas Make-A-Wish Central & South Texas creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. We seek to bring every eligible child's wish to life, because a wish is an integral part of a child's treatment journey. Together, generous donors, supporters, staff and more than 700 volunteers have granted over 5,000 wishes for children across our territory since 1985 and have hosted more than 1,000 others for children around the world; the chapter granted over 300 wishes last year, the most in its 35-year history. About ProSource ProSource is a cooperative, membergoverned, not-for-profit buying group representing more than 550 specialty retailers and custom integrators.
For more information about Make-A-Wish CSTX, visit us at www.cstx.wish.org. For additional information go to www.prosourceinfo.com.
Azione Unlimited Comes Home With Philly Suburb Headquarters Purchase Late 1800’s farmhouse is where it all started for the buying group By TWICE Staff
zione Unlimited has purchased the building they were founded in, establishing a permanent location for its staff and opportunities to host more promising events in the future. Located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the late-1800s farmhouse was the founding location for Azione Unlimited nearly a decade ago. After purchasing the 3500-square-foot building in August, the new location has become a home for the Azione family. “Azione Unlimited has always felt like a family, making our newly purchased headquarters, frankly, a captivating story,” says Richard Glikes, president of Azione Unlimited. “Purchasing this building gives us a luxury of opportunities to expand our offerings and support our members. There is a lot of
JANUARY 2021 | TWICE.COM
history in these walls already, and we are excited to create more memories with our Azione Unlimited community.” Located at 501 E Uwchlan Ave, in Chester Springs, PA, the Azione Unlimited headquarters sports a new roof, a fresh coat of paint, brand new shutters, and a custommade sign to proudly showcase the recently trademarked “Smart Home Association” designation. When Richard Glikes first entered into the buying group world, it was with the Home Technology Specialists of America in 1996. Their trade association would wind up calling the second floor of the building home as it continued to serve the custom integration channel. Approaching nearly a decade in the industry, purchasing a headquarters now presents the opportunity to elevate the Azione Unlimited offering. Approaching 3500-square-feet in now unoccupied space, the Smart Home Association sets the groundwork to host powerful events for members. “The main thrust of buying the building was really about how much room we have to expand,” says Glikes. “Hosting guests for events, training, or even our coveted Key Leader Meetings is now possible thanks to our abundance of space. Imagine the amount of flexibility we acquire by hosting more intimate conferences without the constraints of the hotel. We can also start devising ways to offer shared services and give those individuals an office space to work in and the tools to communicate with our members.”
For more information, visit AzioneUnlimited.com.
American Lighting’s Proluxe Line To Be Featured At New ProSource Lighting Technology And Learning Center Includes wide range of commercial/ residential interior and exterior lighting ProSource announced that it will be featuring vendor partner American Lighting’s Proluxe line of specificationgrade linear and task lighting products at its Lighting Technology and Learning Center at the Dallas Market Center, set to open in Q1, 2021. "Our products are the result of innovation, research, and attention to detail," commented Jennifer Kirkpatrick, National Sales Manager, Residential Lighting at American Lighting. "They light the most prestigious spaces and architectural works of art, create atmospheres, and arouse emotions."
THE ASSORTMENT OF PROLUXE PRODUCTS INCLUDES:
• Warm to Dim Tape Light – Great for retrofit applications and remodels
• Wide-Range Tunable Tape Light –
Perfect for human-centric lighting packages RGB + Tunable White Tape light – Create dynamic lighting scenes throughout any space Microlux – Low-voltage undercabinet lighting that links together like Legos Tunable Canvas Sheets – Perfect for backlighting countertops
• • •
TWICE.COM | JANUARY 2021
Whirlpool Corporation’s Chairman And CEO Marc Bitzer To Be Founding Member Of OneTen Coalition
hirlpool Corporation announced that its Chairman and CEO Marc Bitzer will become a founding member of OneTen, a coalition of leading executives who are coming together to create an organization with the mission to train, hire and advance one million Black Americans over the next 10 years into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement. Inclusion and diversity has always been a top priority for us as a company, and I am honored to join my peers at other companies in this incredible effort focused on removing structural barriers and driving real results…” Launched with 36 other company CEOs across a variety of industries, Bitzer and Whirlpool Corporation will work with partner organizations to continue to improve workplace inclusivity practices and provide opportunities for Black Americans. These actions align with Whirlpool Corporation’s commitment to foster an inclusive and diverse culture where all employees feel welcomed, respected, valued
and heard. “Inclusion and diversity has always been a top priority for us as a company, and I am honored to join my peers at other companies in this incredible effort focused on removing structural barriers and driving real results,” said Bitzer. “We have continually worked to create an engaging and inclusive environment across our organization, and we look forward to continuing to drive our core values and providing opportunities for all of our Marc Bitzer employees to succeed.” Whirlpool Corporation has long believed in the power of inclusion and diversity to drive its business strategy. Earlier this year, the company announced a multi-year action plan to drive sustainable, positive impact for all current and future Black colleagues and its local community – which will ultimately help all underrepresented groups within the company. Additionally, in 2019, the company established its annual Global Inclusion Week, a program designed to engage
employees and teach them about the importance and benefits of Inclusion and Diversity in the workplace. Whirlpool Corporation also champions Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that include the FOCUS Network supporting Black employees and the Whirlpool Women’s Network (WWN) to attract, engage, and retain a diverse workforce and create an inclusive workplace. The company is also a member of Catalyst CEO Champions for Change, which pledges to advance more women into all levels of leadership. As a result of these ongoing efforts, Whirlpool Corporation is regularly recognized as a leading company in efforts related to diversity and inclusion. In 2020, the Company was named to the 2020 Diversity Best Practices Inclusion Index and scored a perfect 100 on the 2020 Corporate Equality Index. About OneTen OneTen is a coalition of leading chief executives and their companies who are coming together to train, hire and promote one million Black Americans over the next 10 years who do not yet have a four-year degree into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement. By creating more equitable and inclusive workforces, we believe we can reach our full potential as a nation of united citizens. For more information visit oneten.org.
Catalyst AV Add To Board Of Directors Sami Al-Saadi of Just In Time Distribution joins the Board. The Catalyst AV network of nine independent consumer electronics distributors has welcomed its newest board member, Sami Al-Saadi of Just In Time Distribution in Michigan. Al-Saadi joins the existing board members of Catalyst AV who serve the residential and professional AV channels. The Catalyst AV Board of Directors consists of Brett Neiderman (Tech Source); Rich Radimer (Custom Partners);
Sami Al-Saadi (Just In Time Distribution); and executive director Helge Fischer. “I am honored to join the Catalyst AV board,” says Al-Saadi. “It has been a great experience working with so many smart and talented distributors from around the country and our executive director Helge Fischer, who helps guide us in so many day-to-day decisions. I hope I can bring a new set of eyes and
experiences to the table and continue to move our group forward, as the end of the Pandemic is in sight.” “I am excited that Sami is moving up to a board position,” says Fischer. “Sami is a resourceful, diligent and hardworking member of the Catalyst AV Group and a great addition to the board.”
For more information, visit www.catalystav.com.
National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) 2021 Board Of Directors Announced Includes seven returning directors and two new members By TWICE Staff
he National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) has set its Board of Directors for 2021, which will be led by newly elected Chair, Michael Mahan. Mahan is Vice President of Schneider Electric. He previously served as Vice Chair in 2020 and has served on the board since 2018. The new board will assume their roles on Jan. 1, 2021. “I’m honored to take on the role of Board Chair for 2021,” said Mahan in a statement. “The last year has been challenging on a number of levels. Working together with my fellow board members and the Association, we kept NKBA strong and the membership engaged under difficult circumstances. I look forward to continuing this work, and I’m confident we will maintain our leadership position, as we strive to add value for our members and advocate for the industry at large.”
JOINING MAHAN AS BOARD OFFICERS ARE:
• Vice Chair, Basil Larkin, Vice President of Sales for Hestan Commercial Corp Secretary/Treasurer, Randy Warner, Vice President of Sales – Luxury Division for Samsung-Dacor. Outgoing Board Chair, Allison Lowrie, will remain on the Board as a director. She is joined by other returning Board
JANUARY 2021 | TWICE.COM
• Kristen Elder, Showroom & Builder Vice President, Ferguson Enterprises;
• Jan Heck, President & CEO, Miele USA; • Jan Neiges, CKD, Principal, Jan Neiges LLC
NEW DIRECTORS JOINING THE BOARD INCLUDE:
• Louis M. “Lou” Rohl, Founder of House
of ROHL, and son of HoR Founder and Kitchen & Bath Hall of Famer Ken Rohl, who also served on the board; Mikael Akerberg, CEO of nobilia North America. “We are very grateful to our board members, who volunteer their energy, effort and time — especially as they adapt to the changing conditions for their own businesses,” said Bill Darcy, NKBA CEO in a statement. “Their dedication to the association, commitment to the industry and perspective they bring from different sectors of the business is invaluable. We’ve worked with Michael for the past three years, during his time running the Monogram Brand at GE, and now with Schneider Electric, and look forward to his guidance as NKBA continues growing its position as the Association leader in member value, engagement, digital content and world-class networking platforms.” Board members Lorenzo Marquez, Founder and President of Marqet Group, and Steve Joseph, Founder and CEO of Smart Home Products have completed their terms. The NKBA thanks them for their service. The NKBA has also named its leadership committees.
LEADERSHIP RECRUITMENT COMMITTEE:
• Bryant Haas, OEM Sales Manager, Reva-Shelf, LLC;
• Amy Hornby, Director, Key Accounts, Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) and CEDIA Expo; Steve Petock, Senior Vice President Business Development, Ferguson Enterprises; Katie Brockman, Vice President, Corporate Sales, Sandow; Kerrie Kelly, Principal & Creative Director, Kerrie Kelly Design Lab
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