This year’s PCR Boot Camp offered up a mixture of informative conference talks, interactive workshops, in-depth panel sessions and the chance to network and engage with the latest products in the channel.
Here we take a look at most important things attendees learnt about the IT and tech industry, best business practices and the tech of the future at this year’s PCR Boot Camp conference and expo.
1. We need to learn from German retailers when it comes to the Smart Home
Context’s UK country manager Jonathan Wagstaff kicked off the morning conference by discussing one of the biggest trends in the tech market right now – the connected home.
"Smart Home is a big growth area for the channel, it’s a success area. Germany has the larget market, and we can we learn from them," he said.
"Germany leads in motivation and consumer understanding, retail activity and intention to purchase."
Wagstsaff also stressed that smart home is not just 'gadgets for the boys' or an extention of the garden shed, revealing that in the UK, 6.2 per cent of consumers would spend £5k on smart home products, with a majority of those being women."
2. There are major opportunities around broadband
Virgin Media Business’ head of indirect channel partners Andrew Wilson spoke about the opportunities around broadband and infastructure, revealing that as the smart home market increases, this will generate a greater need for better infastructure.
Wilson said that VMB is investing heavily in helping businesses make the most of this, as well as helping resellers make the most of their customers' need to increase their onlince presence.
"94 per cent of SMBs consider a reliable internet connection critical to the success of their business, while 60 per cent expect to increase their online presence in the next year," he said.
"If you offer up a better infrastructure to your customers, they are likely to invest in more technology from you. There is more opporunitiy off the back of what Virgin Media Business is doing."
Wilson said that VMB wants to recruite the channel to sell its opportunities.
"We’re asking for partners to sell our ultrafast products and leverage the VMB brand," he added. "It’s a model that means we’ll do business with every single partner that wants to as long as we have a cultural fit."
3. Amazon might not be such a big threat
Next up was ‘Ask a Distie’, where attendees had the chance to grill senior figures from the distribution sector in a no holds barred interactive Q&A session.
During the session there were a number of questions involving the threat of online retailers, such as Amazon, to the channel and to indie retailers. The panel was in agreement that Amazon may not be such a big threat as everyone thinks.
"We do a lot of price comaprisions between disties and big online players. One off items might have price differences, but for fulfilling big orders, online will not be cheaper," said Paul Cubbage from Target Components.
VIP's Rich Marsden said: "We’ve been dealing with Amazon for 10 years. Lost of businesses are dong well, there’s a market outthere for everyone."
4. You need to get on board with VR now in order to reap the benefits in the near future
Also during the Distie Question Time panel, we touched on VR, with all agreeing that indies need to act now if they want to get the most out of virtual reality.
"Gaming is doing very well. Not everyone markets gaming and VR PCs very well. We should be selling the products right now," said Cubbage.
Westocast's Alex Tatham added: "Make sure you’ve got finance in place for customers. Some will want to pay for expensive machines over time."
The point was also made that there is a lack of VR software on the market right now, and as this increases, so too will the demand for hardware.
5. Supersized monitors, NAS and gaming will be big this year
Carl West, supply chain director at GfK, closed this year’s conference with his market trends update, where he looked at some of the markets that retailers should be keeping an eye on throughout the year.
"Supersized mointors are in demand and an area you will want to focus on. You’ve got to show these products off. It's not enough to just give customers a brochure," said West.
He also revealed that NAS and gaming will continue to be in demand this year.
"2016 is the year for gaming PCs. Whatever happens, gaming is doing well. Value is up wih graphics cards and this benefits retailers," he added.
"Gaming mice and keyboards are important. Set yourself up in gaming now so you’re ready for the VR phenomenon that’s coming."
Also at this year’s show, for the first time ever, we had four masterclass sessions, including ‘Successfully Navigating Online Sales’ from More From Group’s Brian Trevaskiss, ‘Empowering Your Workforce: Staff Retention And Talent Acquisition’ from Utopia’s Craig Hume, ‘Reinvigorate Your Store’ from Gekko’s Dan Todaro, and ‘Marketing Tools & The New Social Media’ from IT business consultant Richard Tubb.
There was also an extensive expo featuring the latest products and services from the likes of DMSL and Virgin Media Business, BullGuard, Spire Technology, Network Group, VIP Computers, Terra Computer, QSAN, Hannspree, M2M Direct, NightWatcher, Fortune Technology, Philips MMD, AOC, ESET, CompTIA, TrustATec, Brigantia and Caseking.
Find out more about the masterclasses and expo in the next issue of PCR.