Highlights from CES 2014
Our observations and favorite products from CES 2014
Kicking off the new year with the annual CES is always a lot of fun.
This year, similar to 2013, technologies for the â€˜connected homeâ€™ stood out against the crowd, suggesting that weâ€™ll start to see mobile tools to control and monitor household systems become mainstream in the near future. Samsung demonstrated how lighting, temperature, washing machines, refrigerators, vacuums, security cameras, and the TV could be controlled at the touch of an app, accessible via tablet, phone, or smart watch. Other products, like ivee from Interactive Voice, act as â€œSiri for the smart home,â€ connecting to wifi, listening to voice commands, and integrating with your thermostat, security system, and lighting panel.
Like homes, cars are also getting connected. The automotive industry played a bigger part in this yearâ€™s CES than ever before, so we can expect to see changes in in-car displays, likely moving from analog to digital dashes.
Thereâ€™s been a lot of buzz about drones in the media lately, so it was fitting that various models were shown off at CES. The utility of drone technology is uncapped, and whether they be used for recreational photo and video, land mapping, crop monitoring, surveillance, disaster management, or conservation efforts, it will be interesting to see how they evolve and integrate into daily life. For more on drones, senseFly offers useful information.
As expected, wearables were a popular feature, with nearly all the major players showing off their own version of a smartband to monitor fitness and sleep, etc. But wearables arenâ€™t all about tracking calories, exercise, and sleeping habits â€” theyâ€™re also being developed to monitor health, with brands like iHealth releasing products to track blood pressure and Netatmo due to release a wristband that monitors UV exposure. Mindreading headbands are also advancing in development and weâ€™ll stay tuned to see what such technologies are used for in the future.
Of course, the list of innovative gadgets goes on and on. Weâ€™ll just have to wait and see what sticks with consumers.
Offering an amazing product is important, but the ability to get it to buyers is what determines success. For added sustainability, reaching an international market is critical..
Our shipping tips
Each year we provide a few tips for successfully navigating the world of ecommerce shipping. These are tips that we are consistently asked for, so here they are just in case you didnâ€™t hear it from the horseâ€™s mouth on the trade show floor:
1. Locate inventory closer to end buyers. In this case it means making sure that your products are located near your customers, whether theyâ€™re in New York or in London. Nate just wrote about this yearâ€™s GRI (General Rate Increase), and itâ€™s no different than last year. Earlier in 2012 we also wrote about the rate increases for Royal Mail shippers, which doubled prices in some cases. What does this mean for smart companies? Learning to mitigate risk in innovative ways. If shipping rates increase because of fuel or other factors, storing inventory closer to your customer means being able to offer free shipping and fast delivery all without cutting into your margins.
2. Sell across channels. If youâ€™re only selling to retailers, then youâ€™re not getting all the margin you can get, especially with customers that already know your brand. And if youâ€™re only selling on your own online store, then youâ€™re not getting the advantage of a retail partnerâ€™s (or a marketplace like Amazon) vast distribution network. Smart brands diversify. Sell online, sell through partners, sell on Amazon. Flash sales? You use those too. Whatâ€™s important here is that you hedge your bets by diversifying, and partnering with distributors internationally can even help you with tip 1 above.
3. Specialize. If youâ€™ve got an innovative, disruptive product thatâ€™s unlike anything else thatâ€™s on the market, then thatâ€™s great. But someone needs to make products that are used every day by millions of people â€“ like iPhone cases. In that case, youâ€™ve got a lot of competition and need to focus on the things you do best â€“ like running manufacturing, or design, or whatever edge you have on the other makers in your field. This means that every penny â€“ and more importantly, every minute â€“ spent not doing something you specialize in, is spent inefficiently. Youâ€™re not building your own e-commerce shipping integration â€“ youâ€™re using something thatâ€™s been built already. You should do the same with shipping. Outsourcing the hassles of storage, inbound shipping, outbound shipping, and everything in between, means that you can focus on what you do best.
FREE guide: Going from B2B to B2C
Please check out our Going from B2B to B2C Guide. We wrote it specifically in response to the questions we got from top CES exhibitors and how to successfully expand from B2B sales into B2C. It has what you need to know about starting your direct-to-consumer sales, and if you have more questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.