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Tech developments that will impact your supply chain in 2018

by Gernot Teufel , 09.01.2018

Fast changing customer purchase cycles have made supply chains more and more complex in the tech industry. The network of resources and suppliers has significantly expanded and has increased in complexity due to globalization. Today’s businesses must be able to quickly identify changes in consumer demand in order to adapt their supply chains for maximum efficiency.

Which developments in the tech market will impact your supply chain?

We continuously analyze tech markets to derive forecasts on product sales which help our clients to estimate future demand. In order to forecast future market sizes, we use a statistical model, focusing on actual trend and seasonality inferred from historical point of sales data. For long term forecasts, we consider macro-economic factors.

Let’s look at our forecasting for 2017 and 2018 for some of the most sales-relevant tech products.

PC and tablet sales are decreasing

Sales of desk and mobile computing devices dropped by 4.1% in 2017 to 244 million sales units and are expected to continue declining by 2.2% this year. We anticipate that all-in-one computers and desktop sales will decline the most within the overall computing segment in 2018, with the outlook particularly weak in Central Europe and North America.

An examination of the global media tablets market shows that the strength in China and developing Asian markets is more than offset by the weakness in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and emerging markets in Asia. In consequence the rather mature media tablet market declined by 12.5% in 2017 to 131 million units and expectedly further reduces by 8.0% in 2018.

With increasing market penetration for media consumption-oriented tablets and subsequent decreased demand for this category, the replacement of productivity-oriented computing devices was re-initiated. Particularly in developed regions, this is currently helping more design-oriented ultrathin and convertible notebooks to grow into the market, ultimately also paving the way for more premium devices. Hybrid tablets are only partially able to stop the negative trend for tablets worldwide.

Positive demand growth of handsets

While the computing market may be struggling, the smartphone market tells an entirely different story, with demand rising globally by 4.0% in 2017 to 1.47 billion units and predicted to jump similarly in 2018.

Premium phones, those with larger screens, more processing power and longer battery life, continue to boost the market and set sales records. And while sales of cheaper feature phones are expected to decline from the previous year by 2.0%, they remain popular in developed markets, particularly with elderly consumers. Understanding the differences in markets globally is key to sustaining this rate of growth.

Sales dip of LCD TVs will recover from 2018 onward

2017 was a down year for TV sales with a decline of 3.7% to 220 million sold units compared to previous years. But the dip should be more of a temporary one due to weakness in China and EMEA than a steady decline, as we expect further growth in 2018 and the following years. Like premium smartphones, TVs are becoming larger, sharper and smarter. And consumers are willing to spend money for both products – the small screen of the smartphone and the big screen of the TV.

How to optimize your supply chain management

Sales figures and forecasts are only two of the four crucial elements in your portfolio that will help you get a uniquely comprehensive view from start to finish of the entire supply chain and allow you to utilize it as an asset to maximize your business profitability.

  • Distribution data enables you to streamline order management and optimize logistics
  • Point of sales data allows you to evaluate your product’s performance and compare against competitors
  • Sales forecasts allow you to align product availability with expected demand
  • Product catalogs ensure you save time by providing accurate information from one reliable source

By combining distribution data and point of sales information with sales forecasts and product specifications you can identify and improve efficiency, enhance resource and time management, strengthen relationships with suppliers and make sense of supply and demand.

Insights on the latest tech developments

If you want to benefit from our insights on key tech product groups then join our experts on January 25, 2018 at 4 pm CET, where they will share their insights on how you can optimize your supply chain to achieve maximum business results.

Gernot Teufel is the Global Director, IT and Distribution at GfK. To contact him, please email gernot.teufel@gfk.com.

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