December 19th, 2013
For tech enthusiasts and those in the industry, the most wonderful time of the year isn’t necessarily the lead up to the holidays, but the huge annual event that follows: The Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
We’ve been lucky enough to attend for the past few years and are excited to send our biggest team yet to the 2014 show. It’s become a Shipwire tradition to predict the highlights of the show each year. Without further ado, here’s what we anticipate seeing in January 2014.
Auto — The auto industry is paying attention as consumers continue to show more and more interest in interacting with their cars via mobile devices. And with good reason — CEA forecasts anticipate that sales of factory-installed vehicle technologies will grow by about 20 percent in 2014 to reach $11 billion, and researchers report that 17 percent of U.S. households own a vehicle with a connected communication system (a number that’s expected to rise as the technology becomes available in more models). With that level growth, expect to see cars and technology become increasingly integrated. Nine car manufacturers and 125 automotive technology companies plan to exhibit at CES in 2014.
Digital Health and fitness — This year, digital health has seen huge growth. A third of mobile device owners use their devices to track an aspect of their health, and investors see value in new health technologies that will be able to help the aging baby boomer population. There’s also a big demand for fitness technology that makes exercise fun, competitive, and easy to track. Expect to see developments in wearables, mobile apps, sensor-based technology, and telemedicine catering to these interests.
3D Printing — It wasn’t long ago that 3D Printing seemed like a science fiction trick, and already an entire zone has been established at CES to show off the latest in this technology. As prices become more accessible to consumers and innovation continues, 3D printing will likely move from a manufacturing tool to a home tool, making it exciting to watch. It’s also anticipated to influence several industries, including medicine, engineering, and automotives.
Wearables — As mentioned, wearable technology is being developed with health-minded consumers in mind and things like watches with health monitors built in are just the beginning. In addition to enhancing health and fitness, wearable technology offers convenience; music players, message indicators, and other features will likely be incorporated into clothes and accessories. Fashion and function will combine and result in things like temperature-adjustable jackets and other similar products.
This is just the short list of our CES 2014 predictions. High-resolution audio, super HD, and other developments in other technologies are also rumored to make a splash in Vegas, so we’ll check in again after the show to report on what was most exciting.
Repeating the trend at CES 2013, there will again be more space for startups. The small guys need to compete with the big guys, which means getting the details right. Once interest is generated in a product, distribution has to be in place in order for it to be successful on the market. In other words, making something cool is one hurdle, getting it into the hands of buyers is another.
- Don’t just focus on wholesale
This is fairly obvious by now, so I won’t go into too much detail, but the bottom line is that most brands need a strong online presence to be successful. There are tons of online store templates backed by strong platforms to choose from, so getting one started is easier than you may think. Create a category on your store that has your wholesale products and a form for small retailers. VAR’s (Value Added Resellers) want to know how to build a solution for small business or home market around your products; talk about this through a blog connected to your website. Blogging is another good way to generate interest, gain trust, and build a community around your product.
- Sell internationally
Overseas markets offer an opportunity for fast expansion. With a well-connected distributor, there’s tons of sales potential in bringing your product to foreign customers. It’s also smart to avoid putting all your eggs in one basket — by selling products in multiple markets, you build some stability in case one goes south.
- Small wholesale purchases, drop shipping, and vendor managed inventory
Strong distributors only make significant investments in proven products. For unknown or unproven products, they may ask you to drop ship to consumers (incurring costs of holding inventory, shipping, etc.) or consign inventory to them (so they only pay for what they sell). This lets distributors offload risk to you. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to drop ship or ship to their buyers. Like everybody in the supply chain, they are trying to simplify their process as well, so prepare to offer them simple solutions.
The above three strategies can be used by any smaller brand or retailer. Capitalizing on these strengths will not hurt your relationship with distributors, but will actually improve it. Since distributors have large networks and the market you’re going after is smaller, there won’t be a threat of cannibalizing sales for them. This will help you be efficient at getting your product out the door.