Acer Is Poised To Lead IoT and VR Market In India
The company sees a huge potential in India’s gaming industry and has unveiled Predator series of products dedicated to PC gaming. While there is a market perception that hybrid computing models are killing the PC industry, Acer believes that there is a strong market growth for hybrid laptops, DIY PCs and convertible notebooks. Adding to that, the company said the growth in gaming and VR segment would further escalate the growth of the PC industry in India.
In a candid interaction with Channel Times, Chandrahas Panigrahi, Senior Director and Consumer Business Head, Acer India, explains go to market plans to expand its presence in the country. Panigrahi also sheds a light on Acer’s channel philosophy and its commitment towards both online and offline channel marketplaces.
Acer has completed 40 years in the ICT industry. How will you highlight the growth of the company In India in terms of business expansion and consumer wins so far?
Acer’s 40-year-old business journey has established a foundation that constantly supports the growth of the company till date. The company focus lied in a strong foundation that innovation is not the mere creation of new technologies and solutions, but the guarantee that users receive the benefits of these developments, and feel truly empowered. Acer is committed to deliver products that are tailored to fit the consumer needs and as a company, we strive to be closer to the customer in the best possible way.
Last fiscal, we came up with some marquee launches including smartphones, All-in-One’s, convertibles focused on productivity segment – both on latest Windows and Intel platform. We entered into the gaming segment by introducing V Nitro, Predator laptop, desktop and gaming monitor in India, which gave us more visibility and popularity among our core consumer group.
We are working closely with the government and research institutions like IIT, IISc etc. to deploy supercomputers for complex research requirement, one such supercomputer is Param Ishan, which we developed for IIT-G. Acer has also developed robust plans focusing on marketing strategies, attractive pricing and retail expansion with an aim to enhance excitement, engagement and experiential purchase for the customer.
There is a market perception that smartphones slowly killing the PC business. According to you what is a current state of the PC and Laptop industry in India?
The technology industry has always been in flux, new products and category innovation defined and redefined the sector’s constantly shifting landscape. These days portable devices like smartphones do provide quick access to email, social networks etc. and can also be carried in a pocket, but when it comes to doing productive work there is nothing which can do as well as PC.
We are also seeing large adoption of hybrid computers where users are seeing real value as a consumption device as well as equally capable productivity device. The hybrid laptops will compete both in the PC market as well as the portable device market, thereby, expanding the potential market and sales figures. Acer is a leader in the hybrid laptop market and we see this market growing. Niche segments like gaming is also witnessing growth as well as high-end content creation like video editing as more and more people are turning into content creators. Their needs can only be met by PCs. Our latest products come with VR compatibility, so we are increase the relevance of PC to co-exist with other devices.
What growth prospects do you see in the DIY PC or convertible PC segment, especially, in the upcountry markets?
Now a days, customers are looking for solutions that allows flexibility. Convertible notebooks and detachable are the most suitable device to assure functionality and mobility at the same time. Both form factors have been well received in the market and have gained momentum in the past couple of years. We have observed that convertible notebooks have filled in the gap between notebook PC and a tablet. We believe that in the coming years convertible PCs will carve out a sizable position in the marketplace, even in the upcountry market, where with one device multiple needs are met. Another advantage is that usually these devices come with long battery life, this will be useful for a country like India where power is a challenge.
Acer recently launched Predator gaming notebooks. What are your new areas of focus in the gaming segment?
Gaming is a very compelling brand of entertainment in India and, with the current rate of technological innovation, there is a huge potential for this industry. Newer hardware technology developments are engaging consumers with a more interactive and cinematic experience, which has taken gaming to a completely new level. We entered gaming market by introducing Predator series products. The entire series is dedicated to PC Gaming from a gaming notebook to a Projector, the range boasts of four innovative products that work in tandem with each other. Recently, at IFA 2016, we expanded our gaming portfolio by adding Acer Predator 21X Notebook – the world’s first 21 inch curved screen gaming notebook. This product will be available soon in the Indian market.
Acer is also betting big in VR and IoT. What is your strategy in these two emerging business segments? How will it complement your legacy business?
IoT and VR will be a big focus for Acer and we will be seeing these products coming to India soon. Our IoT products range from helping children learn computer coding right from an early age to devices which help to care for the elderly. We believe our IoT products cater to a segment which will really benefit from our expertise and not just limited to fancy or expensive solutions.
Similarly, in VR we have acquired Starbreeze and together we have really exciting line-up of VR products. Our tie-up with IMAX shows the capability of the device and we are expecting VR devices not just at home but also at the professional- and location-based entertainment market where you can get even better immersive experience.
IoT and VR will complement our legacy business as these run on our PC, tablet, smartphones etc. which we have built expertise for over 40 years. Some of our products are already VR ready and customers will be able to enjoy the experiences soon.
Global Smartphone brands are aggressive on the smartphone business in India. Acer, however, seems not very active in this fastest growing segment. How do you intend to go deeper in the smartphone space?
We have an exceptional line-up of smartphones globally and we have brought few models to India and have seen really good acceptance. It is a market we are watching closely and we will be expanding our product line at an appropriate time.
Acer has announced a slew of exclusive stores in the tier 2 and tier 3 cities. What is your distribution strategy for E Commerce, exclusive and multi- branded stores? Where does brick and mortar fit into it?
These days end users are moving towards a combined-channel approach. Thus, being present in various retail formats makes our technology offerings both visible and available for consideration on the platform the customer chooses. We ensure that all these platforms (online and retail) exist in complementarity, providing the Acer experience and expertise, wherever customers are comfortable accessing it. Working in line with our growth strategy, we were expanding our retail presence through Acer flagship stores. The idea behind launching these stores is to provide consumers with an immersive experience of Acer’s vast range of products and services under one roof. Our intent is to provide a unique retail experience to our customers and enable them to browse, touch, feel and experience Acer’s latest product portfolio crafted to appeal to the needs of all segments.
What is the contribution of E Commerce, traditional retail, exclusive and multi- branded stores to Acer’s overall consumer business?
We grew our E Commerce market share from 4 percent to 15 percent in one year as more and more customers prefer to buy online. Our retail presence also grew considerably in the same year as we are now close to 100 exclusive stores spanning the country as well as strong presence in all the national and regional large format stores. We have 2500+ partners, which include exclusive stores as well as multi-brand outlets. With over 2300+ retail stores, the offline channel still contributes the bulk of our business and we intend to focus on both physical retail and E Commerce in a strategic manner.
Acer has announced strategic partnership with Paytm for partner’s sales representative incentives in the form of Paytm cash. How will this partnership help your channel strategy?
Under this partnership we pay our partner’s sales representative incentives in the form of Paytm cash. This partner-friendly measure ensures that the sales representatives receive the incentives instantly as cash in their Paytm wallets thereby negating any lag through the traditional payment method. This will allow prompt transfer of money to the sales reps and distributors, who usually had to wait longer to get their expenses reimbursed. As the country is already witnessing a digital era, we hope this one-of-its-kind step will help to improve our relationship with channel partners and make our objectives parallel towards a widespread goal.
What is your go to market strategy for business and channel expansion in next 3 years?
We will be bringing some truly path-breaking products to the market starting with Swift 7 to complement our existing line up. We see huge potential in hybrid computers and our strategy will be aligned to serve the market needs. Working in line with our growth strategy, we plan to expand our retail presences through Acer flagship stores across country. By introducing flagship stores in Tier II, Tier III and Tier IV cities, we look forward to engage with first time buyers and provide them the full brand experience.
We also see good growth in niche segments like gaming where we have a full portfolio of PC gaming products which has garnered worldwide acclaim and is already a leader in some countries. The next 3 years will also see more adoption of IoT products and VR and we are well poised to address the market.