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Exertis: It’s vital for channel to climb on wearables bandwagon

Michael Garwood
November 4, 2014

Exertis sales director of mobile Simon Woodman talks up the “huge” selling opportunities of wearable technology in B2B and B2C

Exertis is urging the UK market to seize the “huge” opportunities around wearable tech – describing the space as the most “dynamic” it has ever seen in its 30 years of trading.

Speaking at Mobile News’ ‘Wearable Tech: Hype or Hope?’ conference held in London on October 21,  Exertis sales director of mobile Simon Woodman (pictured) discussed the importance of the channel (B2B and B2C) becoming early adopters in a market which is expected to be worth more than £3.5 billion by 2016.

“Wearable tech is here and now. Yes it is going to explode in the future but there is a massive opportunity,” said Woodman.

“Everyone is hyped up about what’s coming through and the opportunity for the future – but it’s as important to talk about today.

“Look at what happened with cloud. Everyone is now jumping on the cloud bandwagon, whilst two years ago no one was making any money from it. Now it’s really starting to take off and the early resellers that took that early step are paying dividends.

“Our belief, is it’s absolutely a huge opportunity for the market, both now and in the future.”

The distributor, which had a turnover of close to £2 billion in its last financial year, £500m from the mobile division, has been an early adopter of the market.

Woodman explained the firm has invested heavily in the space for more than two years and now has a dedicated team of 20 wearable  staff.

Wearables are divided into two categories,  “Health Smart” (fitness) plus “Everything Smart” (smart-watches).

Woodman claims the firm now has “arguably” the largest range of wearable products, including smartwatches from LG, Samsung and Sony, and fitness products (bands) from Jawbone and Epson.

He admitted sales of smartwatches have not yet hit “stellar” heights when compared to fitness trackers, but he expects that to change as designs and reseller numbers improve (see graphic global growth figures).

“What we are now seeing is that wearables are being adopted by virtually all the retail partners across the UK. We are literally having conversations on a weekly basis on how we can work with more retail partners.

“The products out there now leave a lot to be debated on the design and the functionality of them – but we are seeing a massive revolution in terms of products that we had in 2012 when we first started, which were essentially health bands, to now with smartphone accessories, and health products.

Whilst most of the talk around wearables has been centred on B2C, Exertis insists there are considerable opportunities in B2B, particularly within education, health and hospitality.

Woodman claims discussions with schools have now taken place about introducing connected wearable bands, to be worn by students on field trips – enabling teachers to track their whereabouts using an app in the event of pupils getting lost.

Opportunities in the hotel sector are also likely to be high, with Woodman noting how smartwatches  can be used to monitor staff locations, stock control, check-ins and outs and rooms that have been cleaned and are ready for occupation.

“B2C is absolutely here today, so get on board. From a B2B perspective it’s sometimes difficult to see how it is relevant but the opportunities are there and will continue to evolve.

“There are a lot of very interesting products coming down the line in the future.

“From an absolutely tiny base in 2013, the market worldwide is expected to be worth more than £3.5 billion – so it’s a huge opportunity coming.

“I would urge anyone who has any opportunities or markets that you would specifically like to target and go after to talk to us.”


Helping resellers exploit wearables market

Exertis believes it is now perfectly positioned to assist resellers moving into the wearable market for the first time.

The firm says its dedicated team is at hand to provide resellers with regular market insight, forecasts, trends and advice on new and existing products. It says it is also providing marketing materials, white label services – and advice.

“The key from us is, if you do want to get into the wearables market, then engage with us. We have a dedicated team which lives and breathes wearable tech, and they understand the market and what’s coming.

“I’d argue we have the largest range of products and we are fairly selective. If you want to look at some of the cheaper products, we’ll explain what’s good and what’s bad. The key thing is how we de-risk it, as you start to go down this journey around the wearable tech range. You don’t want excess inventory and want to remove the risks – so we will make sure we manage that element for you. We’ll work with to make sure you take the right products to the market.”

Threat from inferior tech

Exertis sales director of mobile  Simon Woodman has warned resellers to be careful about which products they look to push to their customers.

Woodman told the audience Exertis had heard some “horror stories” from its retail partners on budget products which failed to deliver on the customer experience, resulting in high return rates.

“Health is really where the volume play is at the moment, the fitness trackers, the fitness bands. A word of warning in this category: there are a lot of cheap products coming through.

“We have heard some horror stories from some of our retail partners in terms of the level and number of returns.

“So it is important when you are looking at different products and making sure they have proper ecosystems and that the app is delivering to the customer what the product is intended to do.”

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