Acer Inc is a Taiwanese multinational hardware and electronics corporation specializing in advanced electronics technology, headquartered in New Taipei City. Its products include desktop PCs, laptop PCs (clamshells, 2-in-1s, convertible s and Chromebooks), tablets, servers, storage devices, virtual reality devices, displays, smartphones and peripherals, as well as gaming PCs and accessories under its Predator brand. Acer is one of the leading providers of PCs. Currently, in addition to its core IT products business, Acer also has a new business entity that focuses on the integration of cloud services and platforms, and the development of smartphones and wearable devices with value-added IoT applications. In an interaction with NCN, Sudhir Goel, CBO, Acer India, shares their business strategy and outlook for India.
Q1. How has been the last year 2020 for Acer?
Despite the impact of the pandemic, PCs have become a conscious purchase in India, and has seen decent year-on-year revenue growth in 2020. We were able to maintain our market position and this was made possible by the swiftness of our actions to capture the surge in demand from all segments such as lifestyle, gaming and the enterprise sector. In addition, we also had a host of new launches across various other categories. We witnessed a healthy growth in the consumer segment, sequentially driven by mega online festivals and offers. Consumers were comfortable waiting for discounts and offers while looking to buy or upgrade their PCs. With multiple online offers, we registered higher double-digit growth in online shipments. Extended sales during Dussera and Diwali, where e-tailers continued the bank and discount offers for more than a month, helped us manage almost similar volumes as last year.
In 2020, Acer developed smarter technology to solve problems and create various opportunities in the market. We introduced newer segments like Work-From-Home, Learn-From-Home, and Game from Home PCs in the market. In 2020 all – high, mid-ranger and even entry-level laptops sold well.
The year 2020 also saw the unveiling of our new products in the lifestyle segment like the all-new 2-in-1 Air Circulator, and Purifier, Acerpure cool, etc. These products singnify an extension of Acer’s smart air quality business solutions and follow the brands’ corporate mission of promoting a safer living.
Q2. As the newly appointed CBO at Acer, what is your roadmap, and what new do you plan to do?
During the crisis time in 2020, we introduced an innovative Omni-Channel experience for our partners and customers to provide them with a seamless path to purchase and serve them smoothly across channels. The Omni-channel experience has been designed to cater to the needs of our Acer Exclusive retail store partners, in these testing COVID-19 times. It is Acer’s first step towards a long-term Omni-channel strategy. Through this initiative, partners can sell the entire range of Acer products to their customers without holding stock while still enjoying the benefits and margins. Customers get a wide array to choose from with added comfort and confidence in buying from a retail store. It is a win-win initiative which is one of many we have introduced to support our partners and customers.
When it comes to partners, our promise to them is stronger than it ever has been. Our emphasis is to empower our partners by offering them industry-relevant solutions that partners can effectively leverage in the Indian market. At the same time, our mantra is to work with our channel partners, train them, and help them create and build sustainable and profitable business models. Our focus is on continued communication with our reseller partners to help understand their needs, and equip them with the right set of knowledge and tools. Our number of partners has been increasing, and we are expanding rapidly with the right partnerships.
We have also worked on effective strategies to attract customers across platformsfor Acer Exclusive Stores, Acer eStore and Ecommerce to get maximum traction from all these sectors. Also, keeping up with the urgent need to be connected, we have introduced True Wireless Audio earbuds for seamless connectivity at affordable pricing. These earbuds exceed customer expectations in every regard. We believe these will prove to help improve the connected life at home as well as on-the-go. Building further on our dominance in the PC gaming segment, we have recently concluded our annual PGL tournament, and this time it was all virtual. But this edition was different. We worked towards creating an ecosystem for women gamers by having the first-ever PGL for Women. We hope to build this segment further in the coming year.
Q3. How is Acer serving the different verticals with its wide product portfolio? Which major verticals are you focusing on currently?
In 2020, we were successful in introducing several products in India further building our portfolio. We brought in laptops like 11th gen Swift series, Extensa and Acer One 14 to name a few. With innovation at heart, we also introduced laptops with Antimicrobial solutions. Our motive at Acer is to empower productivity while providing our customers with a full range of features at an incredible value that customers will be able to appreciate while investing in a PC.
We are also honoured to be leading the smart technology innovations built to improve the world of business. We are bringing path-breaking products with innovative technologies like advanced cooling solutions, ergonomic design technologies like Ezel hinge, MIL-Standard tough PCs, complete display solutions, cloud, IoT, etc.
In today’s time, it is no longer enough for a PC company to just make PCs. Apart from laptops, we have also introduced our 2-in-1 Acerpure Air purifier + circulator. We brought this with a vision to protect our air and promote a better lifestyle.
Q4. How is your R&D team working to develop consumer-oriented products (for Gamers, Content Creators & Working Professionals)?
Acer has been at the forefront when it comes to the R&D. It is an area that we strongly focus on and is a benefit that we as a brand have. Over the years, we have brought in revolutionary technologies in each of our product lines to help our users make notified buying decisions. Our endeavour has always been to bridge the gap between technology and people, by making technically advanced and affordable laptops available to everyone.
We have several patented technologies like our advanced thermal cooling solutions through our 4th Gen AeroBlade fans, BlueLightShield Technology, VisionCare technologies and TrueHarmony to name a few. This is one of our key differentiators with our competition and we always strive towards bringing in such innovations.
Q5. What new engagement activities are you planning with your channel partners to understand the changing market landscape and work-forward accordingly?
With changing consumer behaviour and offering an innovative shopping experience during this period, we have introduced the Omni-Channel experience for our customers to provide a seamless path to purchase and serve better across channels. Acer Omni Channel experience is specially intended to cater to the needs of our Acer Exclusive retail partners in the current COVID-19 scenario. It is Acer’s first step towards a longer-term Omni-channel strategy. This is a special initiative built to ensure ease of purchase, keep partners and customers safe, and promote business continuity. Along with our ecosystem of partners, we serve up to 20K plus pin codes through our e-store. Through this service, we also have introduced contactless home delivery solutions from partners to our customers. We are also catering to several business customers to get them critical IT infrastructure to keep the business running.
Q 6. Please brief about your service support model in the current pandemic situation. How are you resolving the grievances of your customers in this challenging time?
Whether it is technology or helping those in need, Acer is committed to working together to fight this current crisis on every front. Safeguarding these values, we had come up with the Acer Care Campaign for our consumers whereby we maintained sensitivity towards the situation.
During these challenging times, we had come up with innovative buying options on our e-store to ensure that the consumers rising demand for PCs is met at the earliest. Customers were also offered a choice to “Book Now and Pay Later” once the shipment was ready for their site. We had also extended all the expiring warranties by 60 days during the lockdown period for customer convenience.
At Acer, we are continually looking at progressive ways that will help us stay relevant amongst our consumers. As the market resumes in the coming months, we will work together with the channel partners to identify new business challenges that can be quickly addressed so they can scale and grow together.
Q7. What new trends do you foresee for 2021?
Technology is changing at a rapid pace and those intending to stay at the wheel of innovation must adapt. In the PC Industry, the consumer journey is mapping a new course and customers and different industries alike are embracing emerging technologies. With the Covid-19 pandemic having made WFH the new normal, various technologies are emerging to adapt to this new reality. From Cloud Data migration, 5G, Wi-Fi 7 to Edge Computing, expect 2021 to tailor technology to your life indoors. What has happened in 2020 will have a significant impact on how technology shapes up in the coming year. New tech trends like AI is leading companies to explore and evolve the way we work and interact with others. In fact, with things like MI (Machine Learning) and VR (Virtual Reality) becoming increasingly popular across the industry, technology is revolutionizing the way we do business and making high-tech approaches an integral part of our lives. I also see enhancements on connectivity with 5G as high-speed internet has become a necessity in this new order of digital collaboration, remote work, and video conferencing.