Keeping up with demand
During the first iteration of the pandemic, it was clear to us and other industry figures that the laptop industry enjoyed a sustained period of growth, with many being forced into working from home and suddenly realising that their existing technology was insufficient. It forced tech companies such as ourselves into overdrive, both internally and with our supply chain as swift service was required to fulfil orders, despite increasing obstacles appearing due to the pandemic. These obstacles have been well-documented and have caused significant issues for the industry when it comes to businesses’ supply chain.
This year has seen an upturn when it comes to supply. Customers are enjoying having lots of choice once again and it’s meant that retailers are actively having to sell products to consumers based on features and benefits. In the height of the supply chain issues, choices being made by consumers were being made based on what was available and possessing an immediate need. The recent improvement has led to a separate issue, however, with some retailers now holding too much inventory. With the market having softened slightly due to the rising costs of everyday living, consumers are now back to looking for the best deal. Luckily for consumers, the retailers are again chasing the sale, offering big discounts or additional products and ‘sweeteners’ with purchases, in order to secure the business.
Navigating advertising challenges
Advertising with retailers also became quite challenging during the peak of the crisis. For example, a product that was in store one week and ready to go for a catalogue or an in-store execution was selling out much quicker than forecasted. This was due to a desire from consumers to try and get ahead of the game and secure items as quickly as possible, given uncertainty across the industry. This consequently meant late changes to materials and plans to ensure retailers were still compliant to advertising guidelines and not only placed additional pressure on the retailers but also the whole network that fulfilled the retailers’ orders, in terms of local logistics.
Speed and supply over features and benefits became the norm for consumers when looking at certain technology products. Our desire for instant gratification, to find a solution and often just to experience the feeling of opening the box for a new item in a period of lockdown, was driving purchases. For the brands that were able to secure stock quicker than others, this presented a real opportunity to move themselves above competitors both in the eyes of retailers and directly with consumers. It’s certainly helped some brands cement their position within selected partners where they may not have previously been as strong.
The supply shortage experiences also created opportunities for some retailers to clear slow-moving inventory, perhaps an older generation unit or an item from a previous range. This allowed a selection of brands to maintain engagement and service with consumers and retailers despite not being fully operational. For certain products, immediacy and convenience were the main requirements for consumers.
Diversifying supply chains
Diversifying supply chains is undoubtedly something that all retailers and businesses should be strongly considering but it requires more attention than just that. Visibility and forward planning are absolutely vital in the fight to future-proof retail and supply chain operations. Stock can run out, but if you’re aware that it’s going to happen, then robust solutions can be found prior, and consumers can be kept aware and fulfilled.
More so now than ever, retailers need to be aware of the sustainability of their supply chain and ensure that partners adhere to the same standards they do. For instance, according to recent research from the National Retail Association, 60 per cent of Australian consumers are open to receiving products at a later date if it means sustainable delivery was part of the process. It shows that Aussies care about this aspect, delivering products and systems in multiple deliveries, for example, is a practice no longer accepted.
Thankfully it appears that the majority of the supply chain issues faced by the industry now look to be behind us. At ASUS, we’re certainly operating on a basis reflecting normality and are optimistic that 2022 will continue to deliver sustained growth. During the pandemic it has shone a light on the benefits of transparent communication with partners and consumers, ensuring that they faced no surprises if there were delays. Maintaining these relationships has been essential to our business. It’s been a tricky period of time for all of us within the industry but ultimately we feel we’re stronger as a consequence.