Electronics TR ‘upbeat’ despite supply chain woes

By Luke Barras-hill |

Bahrain International Airport boasts a generous footprint for electronics.

Stakeholders across the global travel retail electronics category remain optimistic in the face of challenging supply chain irregularities and lightning-fast changes to consumer sentiment.

As part of a detailed report for the TRBusiness December e-zine, retailer and brand sources relayed generally positive performances in 2021.

Price competition, more frequently than not, means that lower margins and higher volumes are the mainstay for trading electronics goods.

Raelene Johnson, Chief Commercial Officer, KrisShop, noted: “Electronics margins are typically modest, but the pandemic created a significant uptick in sub- category demand.

“Home office equipment sold really well and entertainment electronics, such as gaming consoles and sound systems, were a huge hit. We also saw strong demand for wearable electronics like smart watches, in light of the pandemic fitness boom.”

PRODUCTION STREAMLINING; DEMAND INTENSIFYING

Bassam Al Wardi, CEO, Bahrain Duty Free highlights phones and tablets in a list of noteworthy performers, while citing
a ‘sharp, unprecedented drop’ in domestic electronic sales.

He views the global trend for production line streamlining by major manufacturers and a discontinuation of older product iterations, as indicators of the future market coupled with a laser-focus towards in-demand product ranges.

For many, creativity is key at a time when already low margins in electronics are being further squeezed due to skyrocketing logistics costs in a volatile pandemic environment.

Creativity remains critical for the category when existing low margins are being further squeezed due to skyrocketing logistics costs in a volatile pandemic environment. Pictured is a Merlin Digital fixture with Dubai Duty Free.

Dubai-based consumer electronics company Merlin Digital is using pop-ups to support what it sees as re-energised demand.

“With our Q1 2021 pop-up, I think we were the only electronics brand at Dubai International that had the foresight to invest in an activation of this kind, and it was incredibly successful,” Rohit Bachani, Co-Founder & Director, Merlin Digital told TRBusiness.

Merlin was also ‘one of a few brands’ that took back ageing stocks and refunded its duty free partners, a decision that Bachani says raised stakeholder eyebrows but was indicative of the company’s long-term, two-way commitment to its partners.

As the air travel industry treads tentatively into 2022, plagued by uncertainty around restrictions, border closures and testing regimes, many operators are rethinking their product assortments.

But throwing caution to the wind is a risky strategy when shop-floor decisions are at stake.

Ersan Arcan, CEO at ATÜ Duty Free reports a solid pick-up in the second half of 2021 but points out that changing assortments are dependent on regional demand and supplier or brand focuses.

Indeed, ATÜ Duty Free reports little change in consumer preferences with well-known brands like JBL and Sony as popular as ever.

“As flight numbers increase and Covid-19 related governmental measures are clarified, however, sales performance is forecast to increase, and this will possibly lead to a widening of the assortment,” he observed.

Mumbai Duty Free is reporting strong demand for fast-moving everyday essentials such as charging cables, portable phone chargers, and travel adapters.

According to Sheetal Kachroo, Category Manager – Electronics and Travel Accessories at Mumbai Duty Free, the segment is set to be significant for the company in the coming years.

Kachroo shared a post on LinkedIn recently identifying an aim to ‘multiply the category’s share and KPIs, to grow the overall business pie’.

He highlights expansion of the new ‘work from home’ range, which includes includes noise-cancelling headphones, as well as strong demand for fast- moving everyday essentials such as charging cables, portable phone chargers, and travel adapters.

Bahrain Duty Free is adamant that electronics deserves its current billing.

“Space allocation remains an important aspect of the shopping experience,” added Al Wardi. “We envision that demand for quality electronic products, and accessories will continue to rise as travellers look for exclusive duty free deals on long-lasting products.”

To read the full report, available in the interactive, dynamic and completely free December 2021 e-zine, Click here. Original e-zine article by Claire Malcolm.

The TRBusiness December e-zine also contains a 21-page special report on wines & spirits, a view on the important travel essentials category and the usual mix of leading interviews; business, product and people news; plus comment and opinion leaders.

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