Consumer electronics underwent a seismic change in 2020, with product advancements mostly remaining granular as before. Several companies competing with Lenovo since the early 2010s stagnated and eventually left the market, but Lenovo grew with a three-pronged approach towards physical, digital and omnichannel infrastructure. Dinesh Nair, Director - Consumer Business, Lenovo India, underscores the foresight with which Lenovo churned the domestic market ever since it entered India in 2004, after acquiring IBM’s PC division.
By 2010-2015, Lenovo had grabbed 5-6% of the market share and was gunning for double-digit growth with presence across laptops, desktops, tablets, and phones. Distribution was heavy then but branded or mono retail hadn’t set in. Metro cities still churned out highest revenue, and the time was right for the brand to execute a change in the traditional retail format.
“We were the first brand to convince our distributors to partner with us and create small branded stores across the upcountry market. We built 1000 stores between 2011 and 2014, with some into pureplay retail and others into controlled distribution. Before e-tail kick-started, we had a network of distributors with their branded regional franchise stores,” said Dinesh Nair, Director - Consumer Business, Lenovo India.
Pandemic Push for Product
With rising demand for laptops and a flattening curve for desktops, Lenovo’s business pie in 2019 had 50 percent of DKUs priced below Rs 30,000, 30 percent for SKUs in the Rs 30,000-50,000 range, and 20 percent above Rs 50,000. However, gaming was minuscule, pre-pandemic.
“As lockdowns began, there was a drastic rise in demand for and operation of PCs. Customers were looking for better products, especially in the consumer electronic segment. They wanted more computing power, lighter machines, better start-up time, and resolution, which increased the usage of common components. From a stable 240-250 million base of the global PC market, PC consumption rose to 350 million in just a year,” he maintained.
Consumers were becoming digital-savvy. This surged the demand for assembled desktops, and that trend continues for Lenovo, where an average PC hardware configuration includes GTX machines and graphics cards, a minimum requirement of an i5 processor, and screens as wide as 27 to 32 inches.
Attention toward physical, digital, and omnichannel infrastructure helped Lenovo reach out to customers across touch points. They expanded to 350 new-format, exclusive Lenovo stores in the past three years, taking the national retail footprint to 550+ stores in 230 cities and towns. Apart from this, they are present across all large-format retailers, regional chains, and via shop-in-shop in almost 1500 stores.
“Combined, we are reaching out to 10,000+ stores in the PC retail universe across the three-tier pyramidal structure with our own stores (Lenovo Exclusive Stores) at the top, the big retail stores in the country in the middle, and lastly, we have distribution channels for the masses,” he said.
On grounds of digital infrastructure, the brand unveiled Lenovo.com, a pure-public web interface wherein customers could hyper-personalize products based on series, specifications, graphics card, camera, screen resolution, hardware, and more. They made the customer experience intuitive to the extent of activating pop-up notifications every time a prospective customer hovered their cursors over a particular product on the website.
This has led to a whopping growth of 500% for Lenovo.com in the last three years. The cherry on the top is an end-to-end workable omnichannel model, wherein customers can access the entire network of 550+ stores in a micro site inside Lenovo.com. “If you want faster deliveries, you can either pick up from a desired store or get it delivered at your doorsteps within a day. We started omnichannel in last June and did a business of almost 15,000 PC sales in the first six months,” stated Nair, adding that orders for premium products inclined users to explore nearby stores for greater trust.
Customer service is a crucial aspect for consumer electronics brands and the workforce wins when there is specialization in abundance. Lenovo kept that in mind and segregated its customer service division with experts in different fields. “If a gamer calls up with a doubt, we have a professional gamer at the back-end providing the right solutions,” Nair added.
Doing away with traditional modes of marketing, Lenovo e-rode in on the hot leads. They are catering to an audience in the age bracket of 18-35 years of age essentially, who are digitally active and wooed them with enhanced CX, all the while talking to them about their buying intent, choice, and journey. For instance, they built technology solutions for upping retail productivity and CX at Lenovo Exclusive Stores. They completely automate all their point-of-sale (PoS), and their planogramming across 550 stores is pretty automated. Putting their partners first, Lenovo also became the first brand to benchmark all its stores on Google My Business.
They also launched the Lenovo digital academy during the pandemic. Their price parity portal helped partners across scales perform better. Recently, they launched an app titled ‘Earn with Lenovo’ for small partners, who can register themselves and keep a track of the Lenovo products they sell, in exchange of incentives and commissions.
Success is earned when customers have sufficient knowledge not only about the brand, but also their products. This prompted Lenovo to create a digital academy for its target audience during the pandemic. The brand is currently working on a new product range catering to content creators which will bring together the right hardware and software. With larger screen sizes and better visuals, Lenovo’s journey of disruption continues in the ecosystem.