The appetite for electronics among high-tech consumers appears endless as newer technology enters the market. This year, 3D printers and wearable fitness monitors have the spotlight. Next year, it may be smart eyewear.
Revenue from sales of these and other high-tech items is likely to notch a record north of $223.2 billion in 2015, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. In fact, data from International Data Corporation (IDC) predict 1.4 billion smartphone deliveries this year.
The U.S. high-tech consumer base remains the world's largest, but the market is definitely global. About 170,000 people from around the world attended January's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, where some 3,600 exhibitors showed their wares, and a recent Bloomberg article said the world's largest annual trade show is in danger of outgrowing the capacity the city has to offer.
It's an amazing time to be part of this vibrant industry where the potential for innovation is limited only by the imagination. Getting these items to market, however, can be a barrier to success for high-tech companies racing to stay competitive. Now, more than ever, they need strong logistics support to bring their electronic gadgets and devices to the consumers.
UPS data shows that savvy companies nowadays prefer to focus strictly on developing their ideas and goods, leaving product launch – the process of introducing a new item for sale – to logistics experts. Increasingly, they view this approach as the wisest use of available resources.
I agree. Logistics companies with a proven launch strategy can get products to customers more effectively, better manage transportation costs and minimize lost sales and overtime expenses for warehouse and distribution employees.
According to the most recent UPS Change In The (Supply) Chain survey, 53% of executives in the high-tech industry believe a flawless initial product launch is critical to the success of a product. Fewer than half of high-tech executives, however, rank their companies as market leaders in product launch.
Launching a new product is complicated, and success requires careful orchestration between multiple partners. Many high-tech companies overlook some of the intricacies. Others may be unfamiliar with key concepts such as staging inventory to enable delivery on a specific day.
Product launch requires intensive planning in three key stages:
- Forward deployment . This is the phase during which companies identify their product's country of origin. They also set a manufacturing timeline, choose the destination geographies and establish a sales forecast.
- Product-processing stage . This is when companies determine whether their items need to be staged for any length of time. They also must decide whether they require valued-added services such as kitting or increased package security.
- Product delivery . Companies need to know, if their launch should occur on a specific day, what number of delivery channels needed and whether the launch requires increased customer visibility or alternative delivery options. UPS, for example, has services called UPS My Choice and the UPS Access Point Network that allow customers to reroute or reschedule package deliveries if they cannot be home to accept them.
Innovation in the high-tech industry moves at an astonishing pace. Right now, the biggest categories of high-tech product launch include smart phones, wearable technology and high-definition televisions. But, as we all know, the hottest technology one day can be a distant memory the next.
Many impressive products constantly compete for the same limited consumer attention. A poorly executed product launch can negate any buzz or positive press a new product may earn. In some cases, just one negative tweet can spur more and taint the introduction of a new product.
Even the most creative manufacturers, those whose products could change the world, need any advantage that sets them apart. A smooth product launch could be that advantage.