November 2020 ertonline.co.uk
“The digital world is now a massive proportion of
retail sales,” he continues, “even for those huge stores that have people manning them, while they are getting some footfall, the online execution and delivery is proving to take a big slice of their business. “Consumers that are going into shops now are actually
buying, they’re not just browsing. They are going in with a purpose and for retailers that’s hugely pleasing.” And from a business perspective, Humax has had
to change the way it operates this year; for example its sales reps are not currently visiting retail stores as normal due to health and safety regulations. Area Sales Manager, Meena Toor, who looks after independent electrical retailers across the UK, and who also won the Sales Representative of the Year award at last year’s ERT Awards, is mainly communicating with her retail customers via video and telephone from home. Mr Peacock explains: “Due to social distancing
guidelines in stores, it is actually slightly prohibitive if any of our reps pay a visit and potentially take the place of a customer.” He adds that, quite rightly, retailers are focusing on
maximising sales during these unprecedented times as no one really knows what is around the corner.
There’s been a very obvious shift to online and the
indies that embraced it in some cases did very, very well. It would be naive to say that retailers have not struggled off the back of COVID, but ultimately it doesn’t seem like too many people have fallen by the wayside.
Q: You had big plans at the start of this year, but how has the pandemic affected this latest product launch? Rob Peacock: One of the challenges the industry is facing is mobility of engineering resources. As a business we’ve got engineers in the UK, Korea and Thailand; in an ordinary world, developing a product for a specific market, like AURA, we would have the UK team working on development and bringing in additional engineers as the product is closer to launch. But that was a challenge of course; we couldn’t fly
people in from Korea and that did hold us up a little bit. Also this isn’t a Humax-only device; we worked
with other parties on the development, but that all worked quite well, thankfully.
Q: So tell me about your latest product. RP: AURA is the most exciting set-top box we’ve ever made. It really is a game-changing device. The AURA name is synonymous with the aura of the home, as it’s not just about the TV anymore, it’s about a whole home experience. “It’s the heart of home entertainment” is our tagline for this product.
It’s very quick and it’s built for the future. It has a
high performance chip set and we’ve done that to make sure it’s got legs for a long, long time and that it can handle what we throw at it. JS: It is the first 4K Freeview Play Recorder powered by Android TV technology. It’s what Humax is very good at. It provides a multitude of subscription-free and top- up entertainment delivered with crystal clear 4K HDR picture quality. It is available now in one and 2TB versions.
Historically we’ve offered a 500GB option too, but as 4K content starts taking up more space on people’s boxes we wanted to future-proof it for the consumer. AURA incorporates three digital tuners, too, allowing up to four programmes to be recorded at once while the user watches another live channel. It’s got Google Assistant for voice control and the Play
Store provides access to thousands of apps; consumers can also sync their Google accounts for a customised setup. Android helps make it truly unique for users, rather
than a generic out-of-the-box experience. With Android TV, everything is customisable, with truly tailored content. For even further entertainment options, users can top
up their viewing with paid streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BT Sport and Google Play Movies, and explore and choose from a huge variety of apps and games to download from the Google Play Store.
Above left: James Sandison. Above right: Rob Peacock. Q&A
Q: What sort of feedback are you getting from retailers and those on the front line? James Sandison: I think this year has really divided the nationals and the independents. The nationals were well-placed to pick up lost sales during lockdown via online and click and collect. However, the proactive independents also got online in a big way, like engaging with Amazon, as they knew that to try and retain revenue they had to get sales online. Of course, those that didn’t open their stores and
refused to sell online, they shut up shop and we didn’t hear from them for quite a while.
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