The Magazine of The Electrical Goods Industry www.gcmagazine.co.uk
CONSUMER ELECTRONIC ACCESSORIES CE Accessories is a very broad category, and George Cole looks at the product choices and the display and sales techniques that can help bricks-and-mortar retailers compete successfully against the encroachment of online vendors
EASY LIVING – HOME LAUNDRY Home Laundry products have banished “washday blues” with innovative technologies that have had a powerful impact on everyday life, not only saving time and effort but also energy and resources, and taking better care of all kinds of fabrics. Retailers who can deliver will benefit from generating the excitement and seizing the opportunity
BLOMBERG ON HOME LAUNDRY Channel Manager Independents Steve Naylor talks to retailers about up-selling laundry products
GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED Smart speakers and the “invasion of the streamers” are changing the way we listen to the radio and watch TV
FROM THE BENCH In-car entertainment may not be part of most electrical retailers’ offering, but, says Alan Bennett, in-car DAB equipment could be well worth a look
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Blomberg on Home Laundry Channel Manager Independents Steve Naylor talks to retailers about up-selling laundry products
George Cole Gets Connected Smart speakers and the “invasion of the streamers” are changing the way we listen to the radio and watch TV
Easy Living – Home Laundry Home Laundry products have an impact on everyday life that is probably more lasting and profound than any other kind of domestic electrical product. Sales are strong, technological development is powerful and relevant, yet the sector is not seen as exciting. Retailers who can deliver will benefit from generating the excitement and seizing the opportunity
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Editor in Chief: Marlinda Conway 01420 886 33
From the Bench In-car entertainment may not be part of most electrical retailers’ offering, but, says Alan Bennett, in-car DAB equipment could be well worth a look
20 Consumer Electronic Accessories “Everyone’s a winner” in the big, broad category of CE accessories; but only if the retail plan comes together. George Cole investigates
It’s 15 years to the month since the first issue of a new trade journal – Get Connected – was sent out to the UK’s electrical retailers. We’re still here, under the same independent ownership, with the same tight editorial and design team that created that first issue. But it seems everything else in this industry has changed.
the autumn of 2004, legal requirement – as in the leading flat panel TV US – for digital tuners in new manufacturer Sharp was TVs, VCRs and DVD recorders promising the launch of nine to become mandatory by any set new widescreen LCD TV models future date. Of course, the UK ranging from 26-inch to 45-inch in digital TV switchover had not time for Christmas, supported begun, and the great “analogue by an extensive international switch-off ” date was so far in advertising campaign on TV the future that nobody even and in print. Sharp UK’s CEO thought it would ever happen. told GC that the message was There was also something about moving on: “Last year retailers HD-DVD and Blu-ray maybe were asking themselves causing consumer confusion, ‘should I get into flat panel and there having to be some “Roberts Radio TVs.?’ The questions are sort of choice about which now: ‘Which ones? Where to pursue. At the time, it took a double is the value to me as a looked like Betamax vs. page spread in our retailer?’ The next step, VHS all over again. Some inaugural issue under for example, is HDTV.” would say the outcome the headline “What is Toshiba, one of the was very similar… DAB? It’s the future first to embrace HDTV Talking of digital of radio” technology, took a double switchovers, Roberts Radio page spread in that first took a double page spread issue to explain HDTV, which in our inaugural issue under was just beginning to cause the headline “What is DAB? It’s a stir among UK journalists invited the future of radio,” urging retailers to to HD demonstrations. At that time, one of get on board with this “huge profit opportunity.” the essentials for HDTV – an HD broadcast The company was, of course, right, but it turns source – was a very rare beast in the UK, but out the UK public is hugely more protective of apparently BskyB was planning to launch an its analogue radio than of analogue TV. When HD broadcasting service in 2006, and plans analogue radio will finally switch off is still were under discussion for the BBC to produce anybody’s guess. all of its content in HD by 2010. This led to a In white goods, the Cookers Feature carried situation that persisted in the UK for some time: a clear opinion from one independent retailer consumers who bought “HD Ready” labelled that “built-in looks really nice, but it is never TVs were firmly convinced (perhaps partly by going to overtake freestanding.” And the hot the better quality and size of their new TV) that new technologies were also being discussed. they were actually watching High Definition, “Pyrolytic cleaning and induction cooking – now and were talking about how brilliantly better these are two really good systems.” It took (or it was than Standard Definition, even though should we say it’s taking) quite a long time for they were not actually receiving HD broadcasts. these absolutely brilliant technologies to really We believe that our columnist George Cole become a standard part of the UK cooking (still writing after all these years) later quoted appliances scene. a survey that found up to 60% of UK viewers who thought they were watching HDTV were To be continued… actually not. This exercise in hindsight has George Cole himself in our inaugural issue thrown up so many interesting was writing about “the future of video.” He’d and relevant reflections with a been to a Sony demo of the new HDR-FX1E, the bearing on the present that it word’s first consumer camcorder to offer 1080 deserves another comment. scanning lines. “I have just seen the future of home video,” he wrote, “and it looks very good indeed.” It’s also interesting to note that the column mentions that in the UK there was no
Next month: Ray Muttley and the spirit of independence!
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George Cole Consumer Electronics Consultant
Designing the technology behind great kitchen hobs Visit the website for details on the full hob range for 2019 or call sales on 01949 862010
THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS
BUMMER MONTH FOR RETAIL SALES August proved to be yet another disappointing month for retail, with like-for-like sales down 0.5% and total sales growth at zero.
FIVE ARRESTED AFTER WHIRLPOOL TRAILER FIRE
igures from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG showed the 12-month average dropping to a new low of just 0.4%, with the BRC blaming greater economic and political uncertainty for driving down consumer demand. Paul Martin, UK Retail Partner at KPMG, said: “It’s clear that for much of the retail market, efforts are being focused on preservation, not growth, in this adverse and uncertain climate.” Martin referred to the looming “Brexit crunch point” and potential general election, and said “it’s clear that the only thing that is certain in the coming months is further uncertainty.” He added: “It’s vital that retailers insulate themselves for every eventuality and have rigorous contingency plans in place.”
DECLINING FOOTFALL A “LONG-TERM TREND”
etail footfall continued its downward trajectory in August, with high streets and shopping centres most affected.” According to the BRC/Springboard monthly analysis, overall footfall numbers fell 1.3% year-on-year, with high streets down 1.9% and shopping centres down 2.2%. Retail parks were the only destination to increase visitor numbers, recording a 1% rise on the same month last year. British Retail Consortium Chief Executive Helen Dickinson said the long-term trend has seen footfall decline by an average of 1.7% over the last twelve months. And there is little sign that the stresses on retail will abate any time soon, she added.
“Stuck between weak demand, thanks to Brexit uncertainty, and rising costs resulting from business rates and other public policy costs, many retailers are clearly struggling.” Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director at Springboard, said declining sales and a drop in footfall in the face of weak consumer confidence wasn’t unexpected in August. “We must remember that declining footfall is a long-term trend with annual increases being the exception rather than the rule.” Wehrle added that footfall has declined every year since Springboard began publishing its national data in January 2009.
WEAK CONSUMER SPENDING KEEPS RETAIL PRICES DOWN
eak consumer spending and stiff competition kept shop prices down in August, with many retailers using discounts, particularly for basic items, according to the British Retail Consortium. Overall prices dropped by 0.4% compared to a 0.1% decrease in July, with non-food falling 1.5% compared to a 1.2% decrease last month. Food inflation eased slightly to 1.6% in August from 1.7% in July. Out of the seven non-food categories, three were deflationary, and prices for five categories – Electricals, DIY,
Furniture, Clothing and Other Non-Food – were below those of August 2015. “Consumers were the real winners this month,” said BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson. “Weak consumer spending and stiff competition have kept prices down in the UK. However, a disruptive no-deal Brexit, which would raise the cost of imported goods, could reverse this trend.” In the interests of both consumers and retailers, Dickinson urged the Government to redouble its efforts to find a workable agreement with the EU that would avoid a no-deal scenario.
ive teenagers were arrested and later released on suspicion of arson after a fire at Whirlpool UK’s Peterborough site on Thursday 29th August destroyed a number of trailers containing spare parts for washing machines and fridges. A 15-year-old boy was arrested by Cambridgeshire Police on Friday 30th August and later released on bail to return to Thorpe Wood Police Station on 26th September. Three 16-year-old boys and a 19-year-old man who were also arrested in connection with the incident were all released under investigation while police inquiries continued. Cambridge Fire & Rescue Service was called to the scene at 6.57pm on the Thursday evening, where crews arrived to find a fire involving 52 trailer units. Police and ambulance crews and 55 firefighters were in attendance. Locals, who were advised by CFRS to keep doors and windows closed, reported hearing explosions as fire spread through the heavy goods trailers. Cambridge Police said around £2 million worth of damage was caused to 48 trailers. No-one was injured in the incident and none of the buildings at the site were affected.
PUBLIC ANXIETY KNOCKS CONSUMER CONFIDENCE
onsumer confidence in the UK took a significant hit in August, with all five measures used to determine public sentiment declining. GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index decreased three points to -14 driven by falling expectations for the general economic situation over the next 12 months, which decreased six points to -38 (12 points lower than in August 2018), and the forecast for personal finances over the same timeframe falling five points to +2, leaving it six points lower than in August last year. “For a long time the downward momentum in the Overall Index Score has been associated with our views on the economy,” said Joe Staton, Client Strategy Director at GfK. “But reduced confidence is now affecting how we see our personal finances. “If there is a continuation of that dip in our feelings about our ‘future wallets’, we’d quickly see a headline score, the average of our five sub-measures, crash to a level that approaches the worrying figures seen in the worst days of the 2008/09 financial crisis.” Disturbingly for the retail sector, the major purchase index also decreased, dropping three points in August to +1, bringing it down five points on August last year – another reflection of the overall anxiety felt by an increasingly bewildered public. Staton concluded: “Until Brexit leaves the front pages – whenever that will be – consumers can be forgiven for feeling nervous not just about the wider economy but also about their financial situation.”
THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS
RETAILERS SIGN LETTER TO CHANCELLOR DEMANDING THE FIX OF BUSINESS RATES More than fifty retailers and industry associations, including Retra and the Association of Convenience Stores, have signed a letter to Chancellor Sajid Javid to demand the UK’s burdensome business rates system be fixed.
ignatories include established businesses such as Dixons Carphone and John Lewis Partnership, CEOs of major supermarkets and well-known high street chains. The British Retail Consortium, co-ordinator of the letter, said retail remains the largest private sector employer in the UK, employing approximately three million people. The industry accounts for 5% of the UK economy, yet is burdened with 10% of all business taxes, and 25% of business rates. The missive asks for four fixes that would address many of the challenges posed by business rates: ∠ A freeze in the business rates multiplier ∠ Fixing transitional relief, which currently forces many retailers to pay more than they should ∠ Introducing an ‘Improvement Relief’ for ratepayers ∠ Ensuring that the Valuation Office Agency is fully resourced to do its job The communication also notes that implementation of these four recommendations “could be undertaken quickly, would reduce regional disparities, remove barriers to the proper working of market forces, incentivise economic investment and cut away at least some of the bureaucracy of the current system.”
“The new Government has an opportunity to unlock the full potential of retail in the UK”
Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “These four fixes would be an important step to reform the broken business rates system which holds back investment, threatens jobs and harms our high streets. The new Government has an opportunity to unlock the full potential of retail in the UK, and the Prime Minister’s economic package provides a means to do so.” The letter came a day after BRC-Springboard data showed that UK Vacancy figures had risen to 10.3%, the highest since January 2015. Andrew Hinds, Director of jewellers F Hinds said he fears for the future of market towns as many shops now have rates bills which bear no relation to the reality of trade in those locations. “If our local shopping areas decline then the old, the poor and country dwellers will be hugely disadvantaged as they have less access to the internet and also to city centre and out-of-town shopping centres. “Government must decide whether they want smaller places to thrive or to become ghost towns.”
DIXONS CARPHONE “ON TRACK” DESPITE TOUGH MOBILE MARKET
ixons Carphone said it is on track both with this year’s trading and its longer-term transformation as it posted a trading statement for the first quarter.
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The retailer reported mobile revenue down 10% in the UK & Ireland, but said it was in line with plan in what continues to be a challenging traditional postpay market. Like-for-like electricals revenue for the region grew 2% with a strong performance in white goods, tablets and gaming, but small declines in large screen TVs against World Cup comparatives. International like-for-like revenue grew 4% with the Nordics up 4% and Greece up 7%. Share gains were achieved across all markets, most significantly in Finland and Sweden. The retailer added that online growth in Electricals rose 14%, and the business is on track to grow its UK range by 5,000 SKUs this year.
Group Chief Executive Alex Baldock said: “In Electricals we continued to grow and win market share in all territories and customer satisfaction further improved. The Mobile market is as challenging as expected, underlining the need for the decisive actions that we set out in June. We remain committed to growing Electricals sales and headline profits in UK & Ireland and International this year, and to this being the trough year for Mobile losses. “The current political and economic climate is volatile but, assuming no material disruption from that, we stand by our full year guidance, as we do our longerterm commitments on EBIT margin and cashflow.” The Group will publish its interim results on Thursday 12th December 2019.
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NO-DEAL BREXIT “COULD END UK 14-DAY RETURNS AND WILL CUT EU SHOPPERS’ RIGHTS” I
nternational delivery specialist ParcelHero has warned that a no-deal Brexit may have a considerable impact on UK internet shoppers’ consumer rights and on the protection offered to EU online shoppers buying British goods and, as a consequence, UK online traders face falling sales at home and abroad. The delivery firm said UK internet shoppers’ current rights to return almost any items within 14 days, even if they are not faulty, were introduced in 2014 only because the UK Government was forced to match the EU Consumer Rights Directive, and after Brexit there is nothing to stop the Consumer Contracts Regulations being repealed, as the European Union Withdrawal Act will end the authority of EU law in the UK. “That means our EU-based laws can be overturned by the Government in the future, potentially spelling a return to the bad old days of the former UK Distance Selling Regulations, which gave just 7 days’ grace before sending back unwanted goods,” said Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, asserting that a week is not a long enough time for busy consumers to discover that a product doesn’t live up to their expectations.
EU shoppers buying British goods online will also find they are less protected. “For example,” said Jinks, “Ireland’s consumer regulator, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, has already launched an information campaign warning that If the UK leaves without a deal, Irish shoppers buying from British stores won’t be protected by the EU’s consumer laws. It says the legal footing for consumer rights will revert from a statutory basis to the terms and conditions of the British company from which
an item is being bought. And that could well make British goods less attractive in the EU – especially as, under WTO rules, there will already be VAT to pay on the value of items plus shipping if they are worth over €22, and duties on items worth over €150.” UK shoppers buying from EU sellers, including Amazon traders, could be similarly impacted. The Government’s own guide, Buying things from Europe after Brexit, admits: “If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you may have to deal with the court system in the country you bought from to get compensation.” UK shoppers may also be charged more for using credit or debit cards to pay for things in euros when they buy from companies in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway. Payments may also take longer. “No matter where they live, there really don’t seem to be many upsides for online consumers to a no-deal Brexit,” concluded Jinks. “And that in turn means lower sales for Britain’s online retailers, currently the only retail sector looking at all healthy.”
MORE THAN A THIRD OF RETAILERS UNPREPARED FOR THE FUTURE
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ew research has found that a worrying number of retailers are not actively preparing for the future, with 35% admitting to having no business transformation strategy in place for the rise of digital technology and changing consumer habits. The survey of 100 top UK retailers, conducted by full-service eCommerce agency PushON, found that 20% have not invested anything in developing the digital side of their business in the past year. Of those retailers that do have a strategy in place, only 27% said that they are currently progressing well with their transformation. The research also found that just 26% of retailers believe that digital transformation is crucial for them to survive in an increasingly competitive retail market. This would suggest that, despite the well-documented woes of the industry, including the recent string of high-profile high street brands falling into administration, a large number of retailers are still
failing to take the need to evolve seriously. Sam Rutley, managing director of PushON, said: “Despite the rise of eCommerce and growing demand for omnichannel retailing over the past few years, it seems that a large number of retailers are still ignoring the need to implement a digital transformation strategy. “Doing so will be crucial when it comes to keeping up with rapidly changing consumer demands, with shoppers’ expectations now higher than ever before thanks to the rise of Amazon and other eCommerce trailblazers. “While it’s reassuring to see that 65% of retailers have given the issue some thought, the results of the survey make it clear that customers are still feeling disappointed with the lack of progress made by many businesses, showing that more needs to be done, and fast.” The survey was conducted as part of PushON’s ‘Preparing for the future of retail’ report.
THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS
MIDWICH POSTS STRONG FIRST-HALF RESULTS AV distributor Midwich has reported revenue up 19.2% to £314.8 million for the six months ended 30th June with gross profit up 16.6% to £52.2 million.
perating profit increased by 8.6% to £14.6 million with profit before tax rising 6.2% to £13.7 million. The business said it achieved revenue growth across all territories with strong net operating profit growth in the UK & Ireland and Continental Europe.
“The Group has had another strong first half and I am pleased with our overall performance, particularly given political and economic uncertainties around the globe,” said Stephen Fenby, Managing Director of Midwich Group plc. “The increase in the Group’s gross margin percentage reflects strong performance from the core business and a positive contribution from the acquisitions made in 2018 and the first half of 2019. The more specialist nature of the acquired businesses ensures that our value add to customers and vendors continues to increase.” Midwich completed the acquisitions of MobilePro (Switzerland), Prase (Italy) and AV Partner (Norway) during the first half of the year.
SGS LAUNCHES PRODUCT RECALLS ONLINE PLATFORM I nspection, verification, testing and certification company SGS has launched a new Product Recalls platform, providing an at-a-glance online database that gives consumer goods manufacturers and retailers instant access to the latest unsafe non-food product notifications from the EU and USA. The platform generates a searchable database of all unsafe product notifications compiled by official surveillance authorities operating in the European Union (RAPEX and RASFF) and United States (CPSC and FDA), with data from Australia and Canada to be incorporated into the site later this year. Andy Gibbard, Global Head of Digital Marketing & Communication at SGS, said: “As an industry leader we’re delighted to offer this groundbreaking new digital asset that is accurate, comprehensive, trustworthy and timely. “In bringing together the latest unsafe product notifications from four governmental sources, this platform provides pertinent and insightful data that will help retailers and
SAMSUNG OPENS THE “MOST CONNECTED HOME IN BRITAIN” Samsung Electronics has announced the official opening of its first UK connected living show home, which is located in a new residential development at Wembley Park.
he Connected Living Apartment is a live showcase of the brand’s latest connected home technology in a real-life setting, with Samsung’s open ecosystem powered by the SmartThings app, which is compatible with the majority of the UK’s leading IoT brands, at the heart of the project. Everything on show in the apartment is technology and functionality that is available today. “Many of us have already had a glimpse into the potential of a connected home through devices like smart speakers, but we want to take this to a whole new level of smart,” said Teg Dosanjh, Director of Connected Living, Samsung Electronics UK and Ireland. “This genuine residential setting is a perfect place to showcase the best of Samsung and third-party brands coming together to highlight what is already possible today, as well as our future vision. This initiative chimes with our higher purpose of building communities which are enriched through technology-powered experiences.”
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manufacturers understand and manage risk within their own organisations.” SGS said it was inspired to develop the digital resource in response to the growing need for manufacturers and retailers to comply with multiple international regulatory requirements as more countries open their borders to global trade. The platform enables users to search data by Notifying Country, Product Category, Risk Type, Country of Origin or by Source.
echnology distributor Invision has partnered with the Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA), whose certifications are recognised throughout the custom install industry, to provide a highperformance audio training course. The programme will cover topics including Dolby Atmos, new acoustical treatment strategies and efficient calibration processes and offers learning choices ranging from a one-day Adviser Certification to a comprehensive five-day Advanced Integrator Certification course. Participants may choose to attend whichever days best suit their needs. The training programme will take place at Invision’s recently opened demonstration facility in Bracknell and will give attendees the benefit of the detailed sessions and the opportunity to experience the company’s new reference home cinema. Course dates: 14-18th October 2019. Course content can be found at www.homeacoustics.org
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The John Lewis Partnership has appointed two Independent Directors in a move designed to “provide insight and challenge to the Partnership”. Dame Clare Tickell takes up her role from 14 October and Michael Herlihy Clare Tickell Michael Herlihy, who was appointed Partnership Secretary and a member of the Partnership’s Executive Team in April 2018, will begin his new role from 3 February 2020.
HUGHES ELECTRICAL SUPPORTS LOCAL HOSPITAL
ughes Electrical in Great Yarmouth has donated five smoothie makers to the James Paget University Hospital which will be used as part of a health, wellbeing and fitness event later this month.
Hoover has appointed David Matthews to the role of new business director for SDA, responsible for growing the brand’s floorcare offering through new product development, with a particular focus on cordless and smart models. David Matthews
READING BECOMES LATEST RICHER SOUNDS OUTLET TO OFFER ECLIPSE DEMO SAMPLES
SAMSUNG’S NEW DISPLAY ‘THE WALL LUXE’ DEBUTS AT HARRODS
icher Sounds’ Reading store has joined the retailer’s Southampton, City Branch (near Liverpool Street, London), Chelsea (London), Reigate, Weybridge and Plymouth stores in offering permanent demonstration samples of ECLIPSE loudspeakers in London and southern England.
SHORTCUTS POW Audio has appointed UK distributor Westcoast Group to distribute its POW Mo portable Bluetooth speaker and to strengthen the audio brand’s position in the UK market. AV solutions distributor Redline has gained distribution of the entire Custom Install range of loudspeakers from Canadian manufacturer Totem. AV distributor Midwich has entered into a distribution partnership with Sonos in a move that signals Sonos’ intentions to install its premium In-Ceiling and In-Wall architectural
speakers within commercial spaces such as boutique retail, hotels and corporate boardrooms. Whirlpool UK Appliances has won the Business Excellence Award in the 33rd Motor Transport Awards. Leisure is running a promotion across selected 90cm, 100cm and 110cm range cookers, giving purchasers the opportunity to claim up to £200 cash back on models of varying colours, styles and fuel types. The promotion runs until 22nd January 2020.
VISIT GCMAGAZINE.CO.UK FOR THIS YEAR’S IFA NEWS Sennheiser introduces “third generation of superior sound” Panasonic prototype TVs on show Hisense shows new developments across Laser TV and ULED technology MusicCast takes centre stage for Yamaha HarvestFresh by Beko simulates 24-hour cycle of the sun AEG shows intuitive appliances in Taste, Care and Wellbeing Samsung offers “new level of design intrigue”
amsung’s luxury display, The Wall Luxe, is now available to order at London department store Harrods. Billed as “offering discerning customers the ultimate display solution fit for any luxury residence”, The Wall Luxe can be customised to fit any home environment, going beyond the standard 16:9 ratio to occupy unusually shaped flat walls, pillars or – for a truly bizarre viewing experience – doorframes. “Consumers will no longer have to sacrifice the design of their home to accommodate standard screen sizes. With Samsung’s The Wall Luxe, we provide infinite screen size and shape possibilities which reimagine the total viewing experience. We’re thrilled to be the first to offer this solution with Harrods as our retail partner,” said Damon Crowhurst, Head of Visual Display at Samsung UK. Samsung said customers will be advised on the cost of installation and audio solutions for the display at point of order due to the bespoke nature of the product.
The Boheme wall hood from AIRUNO AIRUNO has expanded its collection of cooker hoods with this 80cm angled extractor, available in either stainless steel or black glass. The Boheme wall hood delivers maximum extraction of 770 m3/h and has an operating noise level of 48-68dB. It is A-rated for energy.
New additions to IceKing cooling collection Distributor D.A.D has introduced a new range of A+ and A++ chest freezers with capacities ranging from 60 litres to 560 litres to its IceKing-branded cooling portfolio. All models have flame-retardant backing and -15°C freezer guard, which secures the appliances’ operation if located in outbuildings, and come with a 2-year warranty.
HarvestFresh by Beko simulates 24-hour cycle of the sun
Professional cooking with the ILVE Ultra Combi Oven ILVE’s new collection of products incorporates this Ultra Combi Oven which offers steam, microwave and conventional cooking. Combination mode enables mixing of the cooking methods, and nine specialist programmes bring professional culinary techniques into the home. The steam oven temperature can be adjusted by 1°C – particularly useful for accurate sous-vide cooking.
Beko used IFA Berlin 2019 to unveil an illumination technology which uses green, blue and red light to simulate natural sunlight and the 24-hour cycle of the sun. HarvestFresh recreates a natural living environment for fruits and vegetables long after they have been harvested in order to preserve vitamins for longer and keep fruits and vegetables “as fresh as the day they were picked”. The technology will be available across selected lines from 2020.
IMAX® Enhanced content arrives in Europe on Sony BRAVIA TVs Sony Europe’s partnership with Rakuten TV brings IMAX Enhanced film content into Europe first on BRAVIA televisions. Models to receive IMAX Enhanced certification are the MASTER Series ZG9 8K HDR Full Array LED, the AG9 4K HDR OLED and the XG95 Series 4K HDR Full Array LED TV.
There’s a De’Longhi coffee machine for every customer. De’Longhi. Unmistakeable Italian heritage, cutting-edge design and technology have made us UK Market Leaders in Fully Automatic Coffee Makers*.
Bean to cup Coffee Machines Grinding your choice of fresh coffee beans for every portion, the De’Longhi Bean to Cup range is the pinnacle of fresh coffee and authentic Italian taste. Bean to Cup coffee machines are the fastest growing coffee segment in value and volume reaching over 20% value growth**.
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Traditional Pump Coffee Machines Create your perfect Italian coffee using fresh and ground coffee of your choice or the convenience of Easy Serving Espresso pods, and frothing fresh milk for every portion. Traditional pump machines grew over 19%** showing strong customer demand for Barista-style coffee machines for the home.
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Filter Coffee Machines Enjoy pour-over coffee at the touch of a button. The simplest way to make large quantities of black filter coffee. Brewed slowly through a filter for a smooth taste. Driven by the popular coffee-shop demand for pour-over filter coffee, the market grew 14%** in value.
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Nespresso Coffee Machines With 22 single-serve Nespresso coffee capsules available and fresh milk carafe, the De’Longhi Nespresso Lattissima range is a convenient way to enjoy great coffee. Capsule coffee machines are 50% share of the market in value,** with the over £200 - £250 segment growing 22% in value**.
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EASY LIVING: HOME LAUNDRY & GARMENT CARE
Easy like Monday morning… Amica WMS914: 9kg, Energy A+++ with quick wash, prewash, steam touch
onday used to be “washing day” in UK homes - with its steam, soap suds, washboard, mangle, clothes horse, streaming walls, red-raw hands and hard physical graft. A normal part of everyday life fifty years ago. But not many people even remember it now, or stop to reflect on the lifetransforming story of domestic drudgery being replaced by efficient, affordable machines in virtually every home. We now wash – and dry – any of our clothes and fabrics whenever we want, on any or every day of the week, by doing little more than pushing a button and walking away. The combination of basic necessity and continuous innovation makes home laundry a powerful driver in the UK white goods sector. As Whirlpool marketing director Marco Falaschetti clearly puts it: “Laundry appliances, specifically washing machines, remain instrumental in driving the overall value and volume growth of the entire major domestic appliance market. The home laundry market has recently seen a 7% increase in volume growth and a 5% increase in value growth of washing machines, with consumers favouring models with larger drum capacities.” He adds that in the premium segment of the market, “there is a keen interest in innovative and cutting-edge technology among consumers. This is certainly a key factor and influence that is attributed to the performance of the home laundry market.” It’s a trend also described by Lisa Keogh, head of product line, laundry at AEG: “The premium appliance market has grown year-on-year,” she says, “testament to the fact that consumers are trading up to products with higher specifications and better technologies.”
The recurring mantra for electrical appliances in the 21st century is that they should “make life easier,” and nowhere is that more true – or more important – than in the home laundry and garment care sector, where innovation and technology have progressively taken over one of life’s most repetitively necessary and timeconsuming chores. GC examines the opportunities that this great – and still unfolding – story of superb value is delivering for retailers
The “easy living” element of modern home laundry is now taken for granted, but there is a danger that consumers in the UK, where the typical average replacement cycle for a washing machine is around eight years, can lose touch with the ongoing developments that keep on making appliances better and better. White goods innovation and technology doesn’t have the “exciting” image given to consumer electronics, but any laundry appliance bought today has advanced at least as fast as – and probably more usefully than - any CE product over the same period. It will perform better, look better and be better value than the appliance it replaces, because manufacturers have taken notice of 21st century consumers’ growing list of wants. It’s an increasingly refined list, and alongside the expected requirements to get all kinds of fabrics perfectly clean and germ-free without damage, shrinkage or fading in the chosen time and with a minimum of human decision-making, consumers now have leisure to care about the environmental impacts of water usage, energy and detergent consumption, saving money on household bills and even the sustainability of the product lifecycle, from manufacture through working life to responsible disposal. Depending on the customer, some of these are more important than others, but If most or all of these concerns can be met by laundry products with minimum effort from the consumer, so much the better.
COMING CLEAN That said, the great story of home laundry comes with some home truths. As Sara Bazeley, brand manager at Indesit, points out, this is largely a replacement market. “71% of washing
“Washing machines remain instrumental in driving the overall value and volume growth of the entire major domestic appliance market”
machines purchased are replacement products,” she says, “with only 23% of consumers actually planning to buy a new washing machine. What’s more, distress purchases often drive a faster purchase timeline…” In short, most consumers only think about a home laundry appliance when they need one fast; so, for retailers, there may only be a small window of opportunity to attract, engage, explain, convince and – where possible – upsell to a customer whose interest in home laundry products has only just been reawakened from years of dormancy by a sudden crisis. Amica marketing manager Steve Corbett says: “When a consumer comes to the market for a replacement appliance, they do look for value for money, features and cost and energy efficiencies. Above all, though, they want the product delivered in good time.” The timeliness priority is emphasised by other manufacturers. Senior Hotpoint brand manager Catherine Balderson says: “When an appliance has broken down, consumers are looking for an efficient and
“Families are increasingly after a larger capacity washer/dryer to get the most out of each wash load” seamless delivery experience.” Retailers with physical stores and good staff will have the edge over online sellers, but may lose it if they can’t deliver straight away.
FABRIC OF SOCIETY The “higher specification and better technologies” that AEG’s Lisa Keogh cites are generally associated with built-in, but because home laundry in the UK is so driven by distress purchase, and also because we have never quite found a “standard” place to put it: kitchen; garage; bathroom; utility room; basement; shed…, it is freestanding which drives the market. “Freestanding appliances are continuing to drive sales within the laundry category,” says Hotpoint’s Catherine Balderson, “with sales of built-in models declining by 2% in value terms.” It is, adds Indesit’s Sara Bazeley, “the only major domestic appliance category where freestanding models are outperforming built-in appliances, with freestanding washer/dryers holding the strongest volume growth.” That’s not to say fully integrated/built-in laundry doesn’t represent the perfect choice for many customers, for example where a considered purchase forms part of an
Indesit “Push&Go” with one-button cycle system
Beko WR94PB44D: 9kg, Energy A+++, AirTherapy, AntiCrease & DrumClean+ technology
integrated new kitchen scheme, or where a laundry slot needs filling in a setting where discreet matching cabinetry maintains an overall design look without sacrificing performance or features. For example, Caple product manager Luke Shipway reassures that low-temperature and quick-wash programmes, eco settings, delicate washing and customisable programming are all available behind the flush panel of a built-in 8kg washer or washer/dryer, and that “machine load sizes will continue to vary greatly to cater for evolving customer needs. We haven’t reached the maximum capacity yet as technology continues to evolve to work on ways in which to increase drum size.”
FULL LOAD OF CHOICES Capacity has generally increased over the past decade, and “the reassurance of large drum size,” says Amica’s Steve Corbett, is important to many, because “even singletons like to wash pet beds, duvets, and soft furnishings from time to time.” Beko laundry product manager Laura Selten sees “a trend for larger capacity models,” pointing out that an 8kg model “allows for up to 40 shirts to be cleaned in one cycle,” and the 10kg model “can wash four double bedsheet sets and 13 towels in just one load.” In addition, she says, a full load of up to 12kg can be washed in as little as 28 minutes, “saving approximately 10 days of time per year.” Hoover Candy UK freestanding business director Steve Macdonald notes that “smart and WiFi appliances have been growing in popularity,” and that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now filtering through to household appliances, with “laundry models leading the way in utilising the technology in the most innovative and beneficial ways.” Amazon Alexa and Google Home allow direct communication with Hoover’s AXI machine, which can also be controlled via a smartphone app. Autodose and textile recognition, adds MacDonald, are also increasingly sophisticated features which are “all about making it harder to make a mistake and easier to control appliances.”
For Richard Treffler, category manager for laundry at Miele GB, “the latest technological developments have centred around providing flexibility and convenience, whilst delivering outstanding cleaning results. Automatic detergent dispensing,” he adds, “remains prevalent, as does small load technology which “gauges water, electricity consumption and the cycle time to the precise need of smaller laundry loads.” Nick Bevan, head of product management digital appliances at Samsung, believes that products such as its heat pump tumble dryers and QuickDrive washing machines can help consumers “save time, money and energy” while also “protecting clothes from damage” and helping them feel more responsible about their individual carbon footprint. Smeg UK’s product manager Lucy Dunstan, acknowledges that consumers “are a lot more conscious of their water usage and eco efficiency,” and that “families are increasingly after a larger capacity washer/dryer to get the most out of each wash load.” She also points out that bigger capacities are less likely to be overfilled, which “runs the risk of reducing the overall effectiveness of the wash.” White goods manufacturers have also been working on radical ways to reduce the impact of their machines on the environment. Consumption of energy, water and other resources during the manufacturing process is being significantly reduced by leading brands in their facilities worldwide. And earlier this month at IFA 2019 in Berlin, for example, Arçelik, parent company of, among others, the Beko, Grundig, and Blomberg brands, announced it is making its microfibre filtering technology available to competitors in the home appliances industry. The company has developed a washing machine with a built-in synthetic microfibre filtration system, which is planned to be rolled out in 2020. It will prevent the more than one million microfibres produced by every single wash load from being flushed away into the global ecosystem. CEO Hakan Bulgurlu said: “We believe reducing the environmental damage that we are causing as an industry is a key opportunity we should seize.” The message is that manufacturers are meeting real consumer needs with relevant innovation, and that the demise of the Monday washday has created an easier, and also a more environmentally responsible, way to get the clean fabrics without compromising on environmental responsibility.
Which Blomberg products cater for busy lifestyles?
Steve Naylor, Channel Manager Independents at Blomberg, explains how retailers can up-sell their laundry products
people’s lifestyles get even busier, we spend more time on the go. Blomberg recognises this by producing appliances with timesaving innovations to help consumers spend less time on tasks and dedicate extra time to their professional or social lives. This presents a brilliant opportunity for retailers to up-sell the timesaving features of our Blomberg laundry range.
Our washing machine range comes complete with a number of innovative features, including the Fast Full Load programme that washes a full load of laundry in under 30 minutes, the Mini 14 programme that can wash up to 2kg in just 14 minutes, and the Shorter Wash function that uses increased drum movements and optimised temperature control to shorten programme durations at the touch of a button. Another added beneﬁt to the consumer is that all Blomberg washing machines are rated A+++ for energy efﬁciency and are equipped with a Woollens programme, endorsed by Woolmark ®.
Hero Blomberg product to stock:
11kg 1400rpm Washing Machine with Steam Refresh (LWF4114421W)
Boasting a huge 11kg capacity, this new washing machine is perfect for those with larger families. Not only does it come with all the quick wash programmes mentioned above, but the large drum means you can cut the amount of loads you have to wash every week. It is also equipped with a Steam Refresh programme, which injects steam into the drum and helps to reduce creases by up to 50%, meaning less time spent on ironing.
How to up-sell from a Condenser to a Heat Pump Tumble Dryer There has been a sharp rise in the demand for heat pump tumble dryers, growing 19.1% year on year* and they now account for 11.5%* of the total tumble dryer market. We highly recommend that retailers take advantage of this growth. Here’s a few pointers from our award-winning Area Sales Managers and training team to convert consumers into buying a heat pump tumble dryer: • Heat pump tumble dryers provide a huge energy-saving beneﬁt for households compared to a condenser model. A heat pump model can operate at an energy efﬁciency level of A+ and above, whereas the heating element in a B-rated condenser dryer can use twice as much energy. • Calculate for the consumer how much money a heat pump dryer will save on their energy bills compared to a condenser dryer over a 5-year period. Use the annual energy usage ﬁgure from the energy label and an average unit cost of electricity to work this out, for example 13p. • What’s more, heat pump models operate at a lower temperature, resulting in a drying cycle that is kinder to clothes.
Hero Blomberg product to stock:
8kg Heat Pump Tumble Dryer with FasterDry Technology (LTH3842W) Some consumers are put off by a heat pump dryer because of the longer programme times, but having been awarded a Which? Best Buy award for its high performance and impressive A+++ energy efﬁciency, the LTH3842W comes with a FasterDry feature. When activated it uses a small heater to shorten drying times by up to 24%, giving programme durations similar to those of a standard condenser dryer while still maintaining an A+ energy efﬁciency. There’s also a variety of sensor programmes to choose from, including Jeans, Sport, Delicates and Bedding, a great selling point for consumers to know that whatever they need to dry, there is a programme to suit.
New Houses are Getting Smaller The average square footage in new single-family houses has been declining since 2015. In 2017, the average size of a new house was 2,631 square feet. That’s down from the 2015 peak of 2,687. The increase in washer dryer sales (+2.7% year on year*) may well be attributed to this decline, presenting a proﬁtable opportunity for retailers.
Hero Blomberg product to stock:
8kg Wash and 5kg Dry Capacity Washer Dryer (LRF2854121G) This washer dryer can wash and dry up to ﬁve shirts in just 55 minutes, helping consumers save time. It is powered by our quiet and energy efﬁcient Optima Inverter Motor, which also comes with a 10-year parts guarantee. The Hygiene+ Wash & Dry programme signiﬁcantly reduces the amount of cat,
The Blomberg Freestanding range comes complete with a 3-year guarantee and is available exclusively to Euronics Agents.
dog and pollen allergens in laundry during both the washing and drying cycles. With the pollen season getting longer and longer**, this feature will be of particular interest to consumers.
If you would like to become a Euronics Agent, please call the CIH/Euronics membership team on 01264 320501 or email email@example.com for further information. *GfK Jan-June 2019 volume year on year **World Allergy Organisation, 2016
GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED GEORGE COLE PINPOINTS HOTSPOTS IN THE WORLD OF CONSUMER ELECTRONICS
CHANGING TIMES: RISE OF THE SMART ONES
ore and more homes now have smart TVs, smart speakers, smart thermostats and smart security systems, such as CCTV cameras that stream live footage to a smartphone. This can be ascribed to one major source – the rise of smart speakers such as the Amazon Alexa and Google Home. More than a quarter (26%) of adults now own a The latest RAJAR figures for UK radio listening reveal the continuing rise voice-activated speaker and almost all (94%) use the device of digital radio, with the format across all platforms (including online and for radio listening. An interesting development is that DAB) having a market share of 56%, up from 50.2% the previous year. listeners are more likely to tune in to other stations as a But what caught my eye was the rise in online radio listening, which result of recommendations and suggestions from the smart speaker. This partly explains why the BBC’s share of UK grew by 44% year-on-year to account for 15% of all home listening. radio listening dipped below the 50% mark for the first time. I have to confess that I initially felt that smart speakers were a bit of a novelty, but I have changed my mind. In fact, I don’t think we really appreciate the impact smart speakers will have in the home and “An interesting the way we consume information development is that listeners are more and entertainment. UK agency likely to tune in to other Artefact conducted a survey of stations as a result of 2000 adults and found that 60% of recommendations and them use their smart speakers to suggestions from the interact with brands such as Amazon smart speaker.” (for shopping and entertainment), Sainsbury’s (grocery shopping) and Domino’s (takeaways). Artefact says this development is likely to grow. We’ve already seen how the NHS is now using Alexa to dispense health information to people. Some time ago, I reported how there was some concern that the companies behind smart speakers could skew product or information searches towards their platform, and it seems to me that as smart speaker technology becomes even more pervasive, this danger is likely to grow. Not so long ago, authorities had their eyes on the ews that YouTube and Neflix are the third and fourth most popular TV channels tech search giants, with record fines being made for in the UK shows how much the TV landscape is changing. The report, by alleged bias. I wonder if the same thing might happen with Ofcom, revealed that viewers watch the BBC an average of 48 minutes a day; ITV 37 smart speaker suggestions? minutes; YouTube 34 minutes; Netflix 18 minutes. Amongst the 18-34 age group, the streaming channels were the most popular. Almost half of UK homes now subscribe to a streaming service such as Netflix, and more than one million homes don’t own a TV set, with viewing taking place on a laptop, tablet or smartphone. A cursory glance at the remote control handsets for my PVR and Blu-ray players reveals dedicated Netflix buttons, a sign of the platform’s growing importance to manufacturers. uite a few consumers complain that their Little wonder that the BBC and ITV are launching their Britbox streaming headphones cable is too long, and so is bulky service later this year, costing subscribers £5.99 per month, or that Ofcom is to carry around in a bag or a large pocket. I recently allowing the BBC to keep programmes on iPlayer for up to a year, rather than for had the opposite problem. I bought a new pair of a month as at present. headphones only to find that the cable that We now watch TV for an average of 3 hours 12 minutes per day, an 11-minute comes with the product is half the length drop from 2017 and a whopping 50 minutes down from the 2010 of the one on my old headphones. figure. Two in five adults now consider online services to The result was that I couldn’t use be their main way of watching TV and film. Putting all the my new headphones when sitting episodes of a TV series online after the first episode has on the couch. The solution was to been broadcast on traditional linear TV is a growing trend, purchase a 1m extension cable. although I must confess that I prefer watching programmes Another accessory that retailers episode by episode rather than binge watching. In the case should consider stocking? of television, it really is a case of full stream ahead.
CHANGING TIMES II: INVASION OF THE STREAMERS
PLEASING ALL THE PEOPLE
FROM THE BENCH
FROM THE BENCH
DAB ADD-ONS FOR CARS DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) adaptors come in all shapes and sizes, and can contribute to your bottom line: Alan Bennett surveys them
ost TV/audio dealers avoid car entertainment equipment, perceiving it to be too specialised and leaving it to the likes of Halfords – but these devices are easy to deal with.
COVERAGE DAB coverage in the UK has now reached over 90% of the population from 450 transmitters, amongst the densest radio networks in the world. It is used by over 50% of radio listeners. Reception is assured in most areas, but is patchy in south-west and mid/north Scotland, also central Wales. While over 90% of new cars are factory-fitted with DAB radios, most existing cars are not. Hence the sales potential for in-car adaptors. Digital radio offers many benefits and features for those on the move, but sometimes they need you to draw it to their attention! The slightly inferior sound quality of DAB is of little consequence in a moving vehicle, while its service-following feature (no need to retune national services on long journeys) simplifies use. The main advantage of DAB, of course, is a much wider selection of stations, with something to suit almost everybody’s taste.
ADAPTORS DAB adaptors are self-contained and mount on the car’s dashboard or windscreen. They connect to the existing analogue radio in one of two ways: via its aux-in socket (gives best sound quality) or wirelessly, whereby the adaptor acts as a flea-power stereo FM transmitter with a
range of a few feet. Its signal, at a ‘quiet spot’ (e.g. 87.5MHz) in the VHF broadcast band, is tuned in on the existing radio. Some sophisticated adaptors like the Nextbase type DAB250 (£80) can themselves seek out and settle on an unused frequency. A few models, e.g. by Denison, can be hidden completely away and operated by a mini-remote control, while others sport an RDS (Radio Data System) encoder so that suitably-equipped existing receivers can use their own station/track indicator displays with DAB reception. These come in the higher price brackets of course. Virtually all adapters are powered from the car’s cigar lighter socket, but can be hard-wired if required to be ‘tidy’. The use of an adapter permits all the features of the existing radio to be used – multi-speakers, graphic equaliser/tone controls, stereo processing and manipulation, mighty boom boxes and all. Many DAB adaptors, even in the lower-priced ranges, are equipped with Bluetooth. That offers hands-free phone operation, playback of ‘own’ media via (e.g.) a smartphone or MP3 player, and access to streaming platforms such as Spotify.
“DAB adaptors are self-contained and mount on the car’s dashboard or windscreen.”
AERIALS Like all radios a DAB adapter needs some sort of aerial. The simplest, often supplied in the box, fits to the windscreen, high up on the passenger side; some are of the ‘film’ type, typically costing £15-£20 as a separate accessory. They are not as efficient as an external antenna – and in mobile use a good signal is important. An FM car aerial (splitters and adapters are available at www.co-star.co.uk) is not very good for the Band 3 frequencies (174-240Mhz) used for DAB, being too long. Some helically-wound (short, stubby, roof-mounted) FM car aerials are better for DAB than conventional
quarter-wave types. The best device is a purpose-designed magnetic-mount roof aerial which benefits from the ground-plane provided by the car body. These sell at retail for £20-£70.
MAKES AND MODELS
A wide range of cheapo no-name and funny-name DAB adaptors priced around £30 appear on the web, for instance at Amazon and eBay. Their price speaks for itself in terms of integrity and performance – you get what you pay for, and what can you expect from something costing the price of three packets of cigarettes? Probably the best-known DAB adaptor manufacturer in the UK is Pure, who offer a range of three in-car adaptors. The simplest of them is the Highway 200 model, listed at about £100 and offering 20 preset stations, DAB+, service-following and autodimming of the display. Model 400 (SRP £140) adds streaming, Bluetooth connection to mobile devices and a wireless remote control. Top-range model 600, at around £160, additionally provides Bluetooth hands-free phone operation. All these models carry a three-year guarantee. A high-quality DAB adaptor is made by Pioneer, model SDA-11DAB, selling at about £150 and featuring Bluetooth and service-following, also ABC search. It’s a good performer with an easy menu interface. Best known for its satnav products, Nextbase offers type DAB350 BT with a rotary selector dial like the Pure models, along with hands-free phone operation via Bluetooth. It is priced at about £130. Denison manufacture a wide range of adaptors; models DAB+A and DAB+M can be hidden away and operated by a supplied remote control zapper or from a smartphone using an app. These sell at £120 and £170 respectively, while the £100 DAB+R type is confined to its own remote control. Some Denison models use RDS to show DAB station ident on the car’s own FM radio’s display. There is more profit percentage in these accessories than in the hackneyed TV field, and very often they can be fitted and tuned in by the buyer in, perhaps, 30 minutes or so. Your staff can easily fit and demonstrate them, for which a fair price, I would suggest, is £40 if no tools or physical work are required.
BE Sport 4 in-ear Bluetooth: fit for the job
The CE Accessories market is rich in retail opportunity. But it’s a very broad category, ranging from batteries to ear buds to TV brackets, and it’s also massively represented in online retail, making it vital that bricks-and-mortar outlets choose their accessories carefully to suit their business and their customers. George Cole looks at the prospects
he expression “everyone’s a winner” could well have been coined for the accessories market. As Ben Baker, Panasonic product manager for video, audio, Technics & headphone, notes: “The accessories market has a clear benefit to everyone: for consumers, they have the opportunity to improve their experience of a product whether by upgrading connectivity, improving lifecycle or simply making a product look good in their home; for manufacturers and retailers, of course, there’s the opportunity for added sales, but also, by making the right accessories available, you can improve the customer’s experience of your brand and win loyalty.”
Nobody would dispute that it’s a hard, competitive environment; but while it’s true that the vast number of online retailers offering accessories – with their lower overheads allowing them to undercut bricks-and-mortar outlets – represent a major challenge to electrical retailers, it’s equally true that there is an array of counterbalancing factors that favour physical outlets. Significantly, many accessories are impulse purchases, a prime example being batteries where research has shown time and again that they are a “buy them when you see them” item prompted by well-sited in-store displays. Many consumers also appreciate the advice and guidance offered by
“Accessories are a great way of adding both value and customer loyalty to a sale”
WORKING TO STRENGTHS The question for retailers is: which accessories to stock? It’s not an easy one to answer, because there is a wide range of accessories out there, from batteries to AV furniture. There is no doubt, however, that accessories are a great way of adding both value and customer loyalty to a sale, as well as delivering attractive margins. Some would argue that, even with intelligent stock choices and staff trained to go for the add-on sales, the internet has killed the accessories trade for physical retailers.
Duracell POS: the science of effective display
knowledgeable sales staff, especially when considering which CE accessories are best suited to – or actually necessary for the best performance of – a major CE purchase. Add to that the fact that many CE accessories are often also fashion accessories, lifestyle statements that consumers like to see, touch and feel before buying, and the appeal of a wellstocked, well-displayed selection of accessories, backed by well-trained sales staff in an actual store, is clear.
SOUND INVESTMENTS Headphones and earphones constitute a large and growing category of products that, in the 21st century, are near-universally required across all age groups and devices. The category has a strong fashion element, but also needs to deliver functionality in a range of situations, from the comfort of an audiophile’s armchair to the sweat and heat of the gym or the drenching rigours of a rainy November road run. Given the broad choice of styles, sound quality and price points across the category, and the specific demands placed upon them by modern usage, headphones and earphones offer opportunities right across the retail spectrum. Claire Poux, head of sound for UK and Ireland at Sony, says, “Consumers want easy-to-use products that deliver a great experience, and a prominent trend in the current market is noise cancelling headphones. Alphason: a good selection of cables will pay off in steady sales
CE ACCESSORIES Alphason’s TV stand accommodating Sonos soundbar
Consumers love an audio product that can eliminate the potential disturbances around them. There is a style to suit every consumer – noise cancelling is no longer reserved for bulky, unsightly headsets.” Nick Price, sales director, Optoma Europe, notes: “The biggest trend in headphones has been the move to wireless Bluetooth. People want the freedom of movement that wireless brings, untethered to their phones. This last year or so has seen a boom in the number of true wireless in-ear headphones with no cables at all. Bluetooth audio quality is getting better and connectivity is much more reliable than the first generation of wireless in-ear and over-ear headphones.” With a battery life of 10 hours play time, and design that ensures maximum comfort, secure fit and resistance to rain, sweat and dust, in-ear wireless headphones are increasingly a sound option. Bluetooth version 5 adds the benefits, according to Price, of “lower power consumption, which means improved battery life, improved connection stability, better range (a distance of up to 200 metres), faster data transfer (up to 5mbps) and it’s backward compatible.”
PHONES EVOLUTION Headphone and earphone technology is evolving, adds Nick Price: “Battery life of true wireless earphones has got significantly longer over recent years. We expect continued growth in Bluetooth wireless earphones, particularly in true wireless, especially as battery life gets even longer and more efficient. We also expect there will be more tools compatible with them such as biometrics that monitor your performance during sport, and translation tools. And there will be more flexibility for users to customise their audio experience to suit their listening tastes.”
A growing trend is for accessories to interact with apps and smart technologies such as voice control, notes Panasonic’s Ben Baker. “We are seeing more and more smart products. These can be headphones which are controllable via an app (to manage sound settings etc.) or are compatible with smart services like Amazon Alexa or Google Home. These can bring benefits such as voice control, such as our HTX90 headphones, and interesting applications like language translation in real time.”
“Consumers like to see, touch and feel before buying”
FURNITURE & FITTINGS AV furniture includes TV stands and TV cabinets, and it’s a category that has been moving with the times, though often neglected by electrical retailers who leave the opportunity to furniture stores. Modern AV furniture offers design choices from minimalist steel & glass to the warmer tones of wooden cabinetry, in a variety of shapes, sizes, colours and materials to enhance the décor as well as accommodating the TV and its associated devices, including the increasingly ubiquitous sound bar. Where home environment and customer preference dictate, wall mounting may be the best option for the flat panel TV, and here again there is a wide choice of mounting brackets on offer, from a low-cost, simple, easy-fit unit through manual extendible tilt-and-turn models to sophisticated, motorised units complete with integrated soundbar – such as those in Vogels’ NEXT range introduced last year with prices from under £400 up to near £2,000. Clearly, the add-on opportunities are there for retailers, and the margin on furniture or wall mountings is probably a great deal more attractive than on most CE goods. Installation – from simple bracket-fitting to more complicated setup – is also an additional revenue opportunity for retailers who have the resources to offer it. Although more and more products are using wireless technology, there is still a mix of new and “heritage” CE devices in most homes, driving a continuing demand for cables such as HDMI and even SCART. HDMI cables come in various forms (such as highspeed or Ethernet-enabled), and consumers, not always clear about what’s needed, or how much difference varying qualities of cable connections actually make, will appreciate help and advice offered by sales staff.
One for All Streamer: universal remotes cut clutter and reduce confusion
The myriad of AV devices in the typical living room, including TV, PVR, set-top box, games console, Blu-ray/DVD player and sound bar, need to be controlled as well as connected. Most devices come with their own remote control, and that can lead to clutter and confusion. A universal remote can reduce the clutter: some are designed for just a couple of devices, while others can control around eight different products. One for All’s URC 7935 is a streamer remote which can be used to control up to three devices (such as TV, streaming device and sound bar). It also offers Colour Match, a colour ring display which, usefully, tells at a glance what device is being controlled. Portable tech is a growing market, and the plethora of portable AV products such as headphones, earphones, iPods, digital music players and portable speakers has driven a market for protective covers and cases. These typically do well as online purchases, but the variety of shapes, sizes, colours and prices make them a good add-on prospect in-store with every portable product sale.
POWER SELLING With the typical home having upwards of a dozen battery-operated devices, one of the biggest-selling accessories is batteries. AA and AAA are the biggest sellers, but lithium coin and alkaline button batteries also sell well. A lot of retail research has established that batteries are very much a “buy them when you see them” item, and retailers who sell the devices they power will reap rewards when clear, prominent, well-categorised display units are positioned at key points in-store. Energizer, for example, is currently reenergizing its brand with new packaging, logo, advertising and in-store displays to help consumers more easily find the best product to suit their needs. Manufacturers such as Duracell and Energizer offer a lot of POS material, support and advice to retailers. It makes sense for retailers to take advantage of this. Supermarkets do it. Electrical retailers can fight back, use their natural advantages, and not let big non-specialist stores win the lion’s share of this huge market by default.
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4 Editorial Comment 6 The Word 11 Product Gallery 14 Easy Living – Home Laundry Home Laundry products have an impact on everyday life that i...
Published on Sep 16, 2019
4 Editorial Comment 6 The Word 11 Product Gallery 14 Easy Living – Home Laundry Home Laundry products have an impact on everyday life that i...