Consumer electronics and hardware are a growing sub-sector within the global e-commerce industry. According to research by HexGn, the sub-sector has grown considerably since the introduction of e-commerce from being a part of the multi-product industry to being an independent niche of its own. The same report mentions a 9.1% growth in the industry from 2014 through 2018 with the last year in this period showing the lowest number of deals but the highest investment amount. The total amount of investments raised by startups in the consumer electronics and hardware sub-sector in e-commerce for 2018 were over $2 billion.
The advent of e-commerce has been the technological revolution that changed everything. It created a win-win situation for both companies and consumers opening up new avenues for marketing and customer engagement as well. Brands can now reach out to a broad audience base without being limited to a specific geographical region and consumers now have the convenience of shopping from wherever they are through safe and secure channels. The introduction of AR/VR technologies in e-commerce and with an array of fintech solutions, the e-commerce industry has grown positively.
Here are some of the notable startups in the segment.
Formlabs is a trailblazing 3D printer company that has shaken up the market with their revolutionary products. The company was started out of MIT by David Cranor, Maxim Lobovsky and Natan Linder in 2011. Formlabs was set up with an aim to provide affordable 3D printing tools and machinery which offer the best-in-class performance. Some of the products from Formlabs that have created ripples in the market include 2 SLA 3D printer, Form Cell manufacturing solution, and the Fuse 1 SLS 3D printer. Professionals can order these products or request for a sample from their website itself. The startup is backed by the likes of Shenzhen Capital Group, New Enterprise Associates, and Pitango venture capital.
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San Francisco based Leap Motion is a software and hardware company that was co-founded by Michael Buckwald and David Holz in 2010. It has created new benchmarks with the creation of its 3D motion control technology for a host of platforms. The company has embraced e-commerce and offers all its products for sale on its website itself by connecting the buyers to the platforms where the Leap Motion products are available. The leap motion controllers developed by the company has a fast growing customer base and has also helped in attracting funding for the company. So far, the innovative startup has raised $94.1 million in funding.
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Wyze Labs is a rapidly growing consumer electronics e-commerce brand that was created in response to the need for smart home products that did not cost a bomb and were affordable. Founded in 2017 by Yun Zhang, Dave Crosby, Dongsheng Song, and Elena Fishman, Seattle based Wyze Labs has adopted e-commerce solutions for offering its products to its customer base. Customers can buy their products from their website itself where the products are listed with all the details a buyer may need to know before getting it. Some of the products offered by Wyze Labs include CCTV cameras, surge protectors, and other related products.
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Sphero is based in Boulder, Colorado and was co-founded by Adam Wilson and Ian Bernstein in 2010. The startup leveraged the amazing results of converging robotic and digital technology to create robotic products that changed the way educators taught. The company has created various education robots for children and can be bought online on their website. The company found the stepping ground it needed after completing the Disney accelerator program in 2015 and today, Sphero offers a range of exciting Disney products along with the other range of robotic toys. It has raised $119.3 million in funding till date and acquired another innovative consumer electronic brand Specdrum in 2018.
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August Home is a subsidiary of the global ASSA ABLOY Group and specialises in creating consumer electronics in the category of smart home products. The company was set up in 2012 by co-founders Yves Behar and Jason Johnson and is headquartered in San Francisco. The company offers its products on its website, and the range of product offering includes smart locks, doorbell camera, and other accessories like smart keypads, tapered deadbolts and Connect Wi-Fi bridges. August Home has raised $73 million in funding till date and was acquired by its parent organization in 2017.
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Top Countries with Soaring Consumer Electronics and Hardware E-commerce Sectors
The global consumer electronics and hardware e-commerce sector is growing at a steady rate. China and the USA take the lead as the top countries in this area. China has always been at the forefront with its strong hardware manufacturing capacity as well.
China also led the way among the other countries with its startups receiving the highest amount of investments in 2018. The total investments received by the e-tail and marketplace startups in the consumer electronics and hardware segment in China were over $2 billion in 2018. The country with the second highest amount of investment for the same year was the USA whose total funding was less than half a billion.
China’s status as the top hardware manufacturer in the world has helped it in establishing a strong e-commerce market for the same. While we have already discussed how well the Chinese startups grew in recent years in the investments received, the growth of the country as a large customer base for consumer electronics and hardware products is also notable. The revenue in the consumer electronics e-commerce segment in the country is expected to grow and touch $1 million by 2023. Cell phones and televisions are two of the most popular items in this segment. More than 120 million mobile phones were sold through e-commerce in 2017 making it the world’s largest market for mobile e-commerce.
The USA has a plethora of online platforms that specialise just in consumer electronics and/or hardware products. Brands like Bestbuy and Walmart are leading the way in shaping the online consumer electronics and hardware segment in the country. Several startups that create innovative products in the segment have also embraced e-commerce solutions to capture newer markets by offering ease and convenience in buying their products online. The online hardware sales in the US grew at the rate of 14.7% from 2014 to 2018. The revenue by the end of 2018 has reached close to $10 million.
Trends to Watch out in 2020
The consumer electronics and hardware is yet to become a prominent sub-sector for e-commerce in most parts of the world with China as an exception. As the segment is growing stronger and with new companies joining the e-commerce force, here are some upcoming trends in the industry.
New methods to combat the selling of fraudulent items on e-commerce platforms will be seen taking shape. This will help in ensuring that customers do not end up with a fake product or with products with low quality.
By 2020, the global consumer electronics industry is estimated to be valued at $1.6 trillion.
The consumer electronics and hardware industry is a very lucrative sector for e-commerce that should be exploited to reach a broader customer base. An increase in investments in regions like the US and Asian markets other than in China with a huge market for the sub-sector already can be expected to bring in amazing results.
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