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In a move which drives technology and electric accessories about as far away from fashion and apparel accessories as it is possible to be, this is an industry where accessories push forward the functionality of devices and products in the technology and electric sector – making them accessible and easy to use, giving them the power and support they need to function fully, and ensuring that they remain safe for users.
It may not be immediately obvious on purchase, but the fact is that many technology and electric purchases now come equipped with a foundational set of accessories which make it usable for the consumer – meaning that from the off, and as soon as the consumer owns a new product, they are already being made aware of the accessories required to make it work. After the initial purchase, the majority of accessory purchases in the technology and electric sector revolve around replacing lost or broken accessories or expanding the device’s repertoire to make it even more user friendly or functional in certain environments and scenarios.
With many accessories coming alongside the device itself, whether it be a phone, a laptop or a smart watch, you may be thinking that there is little space in the industry for brands which sit outside of these main device manufacturing bodies and their retailers. However, it is within the accessories sector that we see the most variation, with more and more affordable and independent brands creating accessories designed for use alongside the big label smartphones and laptops – but boasting their own independent brands which are more affordable and often come in a wider variety of innovative colours and designs for added effect.
Before moving into the top retailers in the technical accessories industry and starting to establish trends, it helps to have a basic understanding of which products and product categories are defined under the accessories umbrella.
In essence, the accessories industry is the one which embodies and covers all the tools and products that we use to support the functionality and usability of our electric and technological devices; ranging from the functional accessories which are required for use, to the extra accessories and features which make a device safe, through to those accessories which are purchased and designed for aesthetic value and for adding an extra level to the way a device can be used.
Some good examples of functional accessories include:
These are the items which often come with the device for example a smartphone, but which are also available through high street and more affordable retailers.
Other functional accessory products which are designed to enhance and ensure safety as well as functionality include:
Within this category we also have electronic and technical devices which are designed for use in the home and which also contribute to safety, for example smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
And then we have the technical and electric accessories which support the use of devices, but which are largely used for enhanced user experience and enjoyment rather than integral features and usage. Some good examples of these accessories in action include:
While both the functional and safety related accessories are primarily found in electrical and technology stores, user experience accessories are far more likely to be found across independent sellers and popular high street retailers – with some of the big names in the retail and designer labels sectors expanding into the technology accessories industry in order to raise their industry relevance and popularity with a wider target audience.
Despite the fact that accessories in this industry are far removed from the fashion and apparel accessories sector, there still exists some crossover in prominent retail names in both sectors.
At one end of the scale, you have the electric and technology accessories which are found in specialist industry stores; benefitting from the added knowledge and expertise of in-store staff and online advice, all of which culminates in a customer experience which is both reliable and high quality. A great example of this is the Apple store, which is famed for its high level of staff training and the fact that users must book appointments online in order to have their detailed questions and device issues explored and answered. By using this system both for the sale and upkeep of the electronic devices and their accessories, Apple have created and retained high demand, offering every user with a quality experience whether they are buying or looking for a fix.
Other electric and technology specialist stores which stock and sell accessories, include:
And then we come to the crossover between the technology accessories sector and other sectors, including designer accessories sold by designer retailers, marketplace stores which offer technology and electric products and accessories as part of their wider range, and independent sellers who operate online and often produce and create the most innovative solutions to common problems. Some of the best examples of these retail sectors include:
While you might expect to see some of these on the list due to their handle on the technology industry, for example Amazon and John Lewis, there are designer names in the list which are unexpected to many. This is because these are the retailers who have found a gap in the technology accessories market which can be filled with high end style – taking the concept of phone cases and laptop carry bags, and inputting their functionality into a designer covering. Not only are these designer wares often very popular with a wider variety of shoppers, but they also serve to help the retailer remain relevant in different markets.
When we look at trends across any area or sector which I linked with the technology industry, it quickly becomes clear than one of the leading trends is the focus on constant and consistent development; finding ways of producing new and improved products for every demographic, while keeping the cost as affordable as possible for the mass market. Global marketplace sites like Amazon have played a huge part in the growth of the technology industry as a whole over the past few years, and has also been largely responsible for giving consumers a chance to enjoy various accessories with its fast delivery promise and frequent deals and discounts advertised by email and targeted marketing.
Of course, while technology advancement alone plays an integral part in the development of the accessory sector as manufacturers look to keep up with changing designs and requirements, one of the other prominent trends making waves in the technology and electric accessories sector is the rise in travel. Not only does this mean that consumers are looking for technology and electric devices which can be moved around and transported between locations (waving goodbye to the desktop), but it also means that several retail and industry shifts have occurred within the accessory sector, due to varied and new demands which have made space for a whole new generation of technology accessories.
One example is the rise in adaptable plugs, ideal for use by travellers both on holiday and travelling for work as they fit generic plugs and chargers and adapt them to become compatible plug points for sockets all around the world. In terms of retail trends and where these accessories lie in the industry, plug adaptors are generally found across airports and train stations due to their link with travel and tourism; however they have become more widely available in recent years with the rise in discount retailers and travel goods and accessories.
Another example of an electronic accessory made popular by the rise in the travel industry is the development of travel cases for various devices and products. For those brands and manufacturers who make a name for themselves in this sector, the potential for growth is huge given the wide variety of device sizes and shapes which all need complimentary travel cases, with travel accessory providers spanning across both the technology sector and even designer retail brands like Kate Spade and Louis Vuitton. This part of the accessories industry is also where you are most likely to find independent creators and small business brands, with marketplace sites dedicating entire pages to travel accessories and phone cases due to the rise in demand for cases which both protect the phone and which look good.
Linking to this particular trend and style of technology accessory, it is also worth looking at its prominence within the gifting industry – with more and more brands and retailers now offering personalisation and branding as part of their provision of phone cases and travel bags in particular. Personalised gifting is an ever-growing sector and one which taps into our desire to own products which are distinctly and obviously our own – something which becomes even more prominent in the modern world where everyone has smartphones and most of them look just like the others around them.
We then come to the popularity of portable chargers, ideal for long journeys where the user anticipates the need to charge a laptop or phone on the go. These relatively new products in the industry can hold power and provide charge to various devices, with recent developments now giving these portable chargers new, much sleeker designs and aesthetic appearances, increased charge time and additional functions such as giving the time and providing a portable torch to the user.
And finally, to innovation itself and the idea that every aspect of the technology and electric industry can be supported and elevated with accessories – they simply need someone to formulate the idea and find ways of bringing it to life. The internet – an innovation of technology in its own right – is packed full of various blogs and articles which detail not only the newest and most exciting accessories to hit the market, but also explore ideas and accessories which solve daily problems we never really knew we had. A great example of this is the innovative light switch which, instead of flicking up and down, is simply changed from “on” to “off”. This seems super simple – and often the best ideas are. But what it shows is that the electric and technology accessory industry is largely propped up with simple ideas which make technology solutions in the home much easier to work. Another example is the concept of the phone holding charger – an accessory which fits onto a charging plug and keeps the phone or device elevated off of the floor in order to keep it safe. This, again, is a very simple design concept and is made and sold very cheaply with basic coloured plastic forming the basis of the accessory; however, what it achieves is an innovative concept that supports the charging of the device.
In essence, the accessory industry around technology and electric is widespread and still growing – showing no signs of stopping or even slowing down. With so many varied retailers now stocking and manufacturing their own variations on common and more innovative accessories, it seems that the industry is only going to become more accessible as marketplace sites and discount sellers look for ways of making great industry ideas affordable for different demographics and buyers.
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