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The cable guys
08 April, 2019

The size of the prize when it comes to the gadgets and gizmos category for forecourt retailers is huge, according to Craig Walker, operations director at Fifo. "Our top stores can turn over up to £1,000 per month in accessories alone," he says.

There's no surprise when it comes to which gadgets sell best anything to do with a mobile phone chargers, holders, cases, you name it and it sells. According to Statista data, 94% of UK adults own a mobile, and then there are the millions of mobiles owned by kids too. And according to Statcounter data, Apple remains the most popular make of mobile, favoured by nearly 52% of users, followed by Samsung (29%) and Huawei (6.5%).

Says Walker: "Everyone has a mobile phone and we all forget to take different accessories, especially when we're out and about. Charging cables always do well, as they are such an essential part of staying connected. Retailers shouldn't forget longer cables, as they are great for when you want to charge your phone and use it at the same time. And wireless charging is becoming more and more popular along with the need for power on-the-go, which can be found in our range of power banks."

Not everyone knows what type of cable they need, which is where Fifo's 'try-me' packaging is helpful. It means you can test the connection to your phone before you buy.

Fifo has two accessory brands: Fifo and the more premium MyMe. The company has also recently launched a range of oil-based air fresheners under the MyMe Fresh brand.

Walker advises retailers to take a basic all-round planogram and then allow the Fifo team of territory managers to assist them in customising the range to fit their store. Retailers are given a display free of charge and are visited monthly by their local territory managers, but can also order via phone and email.

"Our displays do a great job of putting the products on the shop floor especially our Flamingo 7 display with built-in LED lights that can be set to the colour of your choice. The top-selling stores have counter displays and floor displays near to their tills," says Walker.

Products aren't available on a sale or return basis but Fifo does offer a 30-day trial to new customers and items are sold on a 'sale or swap' basis, so stores are never left with dead stock and new items can be swapped for old.

Margins are good, starting at 35%, but Walkers says you will always get a better deal if you buy through your symbol group as the volumes they buy ensure better discounts.

Double-digit growth

Asiffa Gadatra, owner of Spot Promotions and the Object brand, says her company's sales of electronic gadgets are growing by double digits year-on-year.

"It is a growing marketplace and the good forecourts are capitalising on this growth," she explains.

"The UK is now a smartphone society. We are seeing very strong growth in the Type C mobile phone charging cable due to the increased popularity of Huawei (due to their advanced multi camera, among other features) and we envisage this to continue. Wireless charging is also an area of growth, with consumers looking at different, more convenient ways to charge their phones."

Gadatra says the team at Spot Promotions always stays up to date with what is happening in the technology industry. For example, latest research from Deloitte shows that the ownership of 'wearables' has risen fast compared to other devices. She says that this growth is reflected in their sales of smart watches and health and fitness accessories, such as the Object Fitness Tracker for £19.99 and the Object Smarts Sports Bracelet for £12.99 making them both affordable for everyday wear.

She says gaming is an area of huge growth, thanks to the popularity of games such as Fortnite. "We are just launching the Object 3 in 1 Pro Gaming Set which is out soon to capitalise on this growth. It will retail at a very accessible price point of £15.99. It includes a headset with mic, colour-changing mouse and mouse pad using the latest technology to create an affordable gaming set for forecourt consumers," Gadatra explains.

She advises forecourts to stock a variety of electronic gadgets, split as: mobile accessories (75%), wearables (15%) and gaming (10%).

Meanwhile, another product to keep an eye on is parking cameras. A poll of 2,000 people undertaken by Halfords found that a fifth of motorists think having a reversing camera would improve their driving. In addition, 32% said they would feel safer if they were driving with one and 28% would feel more confident. Aftermarket systems include a camera and monitor which are connected and give drivers a clear picture when reversing, or link with their existing stereo screen.

Unused gadgets

There's no doubting our love of a good gadget but whether we keep using them is another thing altogether. A study by Carphone Warehouse found that here in the UK we are sitting on almost £3.5bn-worth of unused gadgets in our homes.

The study of 2,000 adults, found that 60% of Brits have an old mobile phone lying around the house that they never use, and a quarter have perfectly functioning laptops going unused in their homes.

The average household has old phones, computers, games consoles or TVs gathering dust in drawers, cupboards and even under the stairs, worth around £127. Breaking down the data further, the study found that we are hoarding 4.4 million unwanted iPhones and 2.6 million old BlackBerrys.

And while 24% of people keep old tech as a back up in case their current product breaks down, one in 10 don't bin them as they've got valuable photos or documents on them, but don't want or know how to back them up elsewhere.

This all might sound like bad news for the gadgets and gizmos market but it's not as it seems our pile of unused tech will continue to grow.

That's because Carphone Warehouse found that a fifth of people they surveyed always make sure to stay ahead of the curve by having the latest products. And one in 10 will even upgrade equipment straight away even if their old model still works.


best sellers

Asiffa Gadatra at Spot Promotions says the Type C phone cable is growing in popularity thanks to growth of the Huawei brand
Fifo's best sellers are mobile phone accessories including chargers. Retailers are advised not to forget longer charging cables which are ideal for when you want to charge your phone and use it at the same time
Wireless charging is also in growth as consumers look for more convenient ways to charge their phones
Gaming is an area of huge growth so Spot Promotions is launching a 3 in 1 Pro Gaming Set. Rrp is a very affordable £15.99.


Retailer view

Richard Garrie
area manager for Adam Purves (Galashiels)
"Our gadget and gizmo sales are phenomenal. I saw Fifo at a CJ Lang trade show last year and signed up. We now sell £400-500-worth of gadgets a month. Fifo is a great company, really professional and the products are all very well presented and of a reasonable price.
"We work very closely together, we share reports from our epos so they can see what sells and if we have a slow seller they replace it. Our best sellers are predominantly phone accessories cases, holders and chargers."


When a major car manufacturer like Ford predicts that sales of its electrified cars will outnumber petrol and diesel models by 2022, does that ring alarm bells about the possible speed of change for forecourts?