Consumer electronics continue to decline, despite rising consumer confidence
After the fall of the euro in 2015, many retailers increased unit prices to compensate to maintain their profits. This affected consumers’ interest in consumer electronics. In 2016 this changed, as overall disposable incomes grew and the euro revaluated, leading to higher purchasing power, and in turn, consumer confidence also increased, due to the more positive outlook for the economy and the increased willingness to buy. Nonetheless, this factor was not sufficient to provide a boost to the volume of sales of consumer electronics.
Emerging Asian brands are becoming more competitive against the bigger players
Large manufacturers continued to dominate consumer electronics in 2016. These manufacturers generally benefit from strong brand recognition amongst the consumer base, many years of experience and well-established distribution networks. They are well-positioned to maintain their lead through regular new product launches and extensions of existing product lines. However, a number of smaller manufacturers gained volume share during 2016, and significant growth was registered by emerging companies such as Lenovo, which saw a strong increase in its share within laptops in 2016.
Internet retailing is seeing significant growth
Internet retailing is registering growth in all consumer electronics categories in the Netherlands, although in some categories more than others. Nonetheless, the majority of volume sales still come from electronics and appliance specialist retailers. High-ticket items such as televisions are more often purchased via this channel. This is due to the continued need for specialist advice and the need for confidence in purchasing the right product, as higher expenditure is involved. Meanwhile, smaller and lower-priced consumer electronics are increasingly purchased over the internet.
After the economic recession, the number of specialized consumer electronics retailers decreased significantly. The remaining physical store chains (especially Media Markt and BCC) are still strong in market share but have to work very cost-efficient to remain competitive against the online players (Bol.com, Coolblue). This results in younger, inexperienced store staff. The main brands have to “rent” their SIS locations in the stores and are expected to provide the stores with their own brand promotors.
Besides this, consumers are very well informed nowadays before they visit the stores and in order to prevent them from “showrooming” in the physical store and then buying online, we really have to provide them with a great sales experience with tailored information for the consumers’ needs.
CPM is a main player in the CE market and our competitive advantage is in the quality of the store staff that we provide for the main brands. We focus on learning & development of our staff which enables our people to have higher conversion rates than regular store staff and, more important, they are capable of selling the high-end products of our clients’ line-up instead of the basic and mid-range products (that actually sell themselves due to price). This “premium ratio” is always a KPI in our contracts and offers better margins for our clients and the stores.
Our promotors are also coached and trained to make sure that the store staff of the retailers they visit become “brand ambassadors” of our client. We see an increase in sales on non-promotor days versus peer stores that don’t have our promotors.
Next to the best in class training programs that we provide our staff, we also are aware of the fact that the main brands in this sector are very data-driven. They have their own sell-out data, account manager store reports and we add promotor data. Most clients lose “grip” on their field execution because all this data comes in different reports, files etc. We have developed a tool that brings all field data together and provides tailored management dashboards, in which ROI, KPI status, NPS etc. is provided. It also provides an e-learning environment so that client, agency and promotor pool all access the same environment and all data is centralized (with different levels of access of course).
The combination of the best salespeople and the best tools have helped us to maintain a top position in the very competitive Dutch field marketing environment.
We believe that physical stores will remain important in Consumer Electronic sales. We must challenge ourselves to keep investing in retaining and training the best people, innovate continuously in tools that give insight into our ROI, improve our people and connect with all available data. Besides that, we are looking for ways to connect with internet retailing as well (e-merchandising, home installations, etc). The world is changing fast so we have to keep up the pace!
Business Unit Director CE