Paul Collins, the General Manager for MEA at Acer, shares his top tech shopping tips
How has the technology/consumer electronics buying experience changed in recent months? Do you see more people buying online or offline from tech retail stores?
The industry definitely saw a strong shift towards online purchases during the initial phase of the COVID lockdown and for a period post that time. Online shares have reduced slightly over recent months, but they still remain higher than the pre COVID period, with many buyers preferring the choice and convenience offered by e-tailers.
Recently, however, we have noticed a return to in-store purchasing, with retailers even offering higher selling prices and enjoying more premium sales than before the pandemic. Some sectors of our industry have been radically changed, an example is monitors, with over 85% of all monitors now being purchased online and this has not reduced since the brick-and-mortar retailers have reopened.
Do brand stores still add value to the overall shopping experience?
Yes, I believe that the in-store experience, with highly skilled promoters aiding the buying process, definitely assists undecided shoppers. Also, to visit a store offering cross-brand and extensive ranges with the ability to interact with the product you are interested in, is still for many, preferable to an online experience. For the foreseeable future, both online and offline shopping experiences have a place in our industry.
If you were to list out the top five factors that people look for while shopping for tech products/consumer electronics/home appliances, what would those be?
- Standard decisions are based on usage i.e. is the product for work, education, gaming, creation, etc, and does the vendor offer a strong range in these categories. It’s important to be known as a leader in the area with a strong brand association with performance and quality. For example, Acer’s Predator range is seen as a leader within the gaming industry globally.
- Aesthetics are also proving to be a strong factor in the decision-making process with people looking for products to match their lifestyle and image. For example, the Swift X, aimed at creatives, content editors, and streamers is a professional-looking device yet powerful and ultra-sleek at just 17.99 mm thin.
- We are also now starting to see a demand, especially from younger customers, that we are as responsible and engaged as possible a company. They are interested in green aspects of packaging, manufacturing, and design as well as what Acer stands for as a brand. They do ask what initiatives and charities we support. Considering this, we recently unveiled the new Aspire Vero, the most environmentally friendly laptop to be introduced within the market to meet these demands.
- Finally, people are always interested in after-sales service and warranty flexibility as well as in-store promotions. We are very proud at Acer to have an in-house after-sales call centre, meaning that any warranty call is handled directly by an Acer employee allowing us to manage exceptionally high service levels.
How high do people rate after-sales service these days?
As mentioned, we manage our service levels very closely with the call center and service management team employed directly by Acer and who sit in our offices in Jafza 1. This allows us to maintain high levels of service with any decisions related to the service process being taken quickly to improve the experience. Our service partner selection process is rigorous and the ongoing management of these partners means we deliver some of the best standard warranty services in the industry.
Expo 2020’s Opening Ceremony to Set Benchmark for Mega Events
With more than 400 major events to his credit over the past 30 years, including the 15 Olympic Games and the 50th anniversary of the Disneyland theme park, Scott Givens’ creative prowess is world-renowned. Having worked previously on UAE National Day ceremonies, the President of FiveCurrents and Executive Producer of the Expo 2020 Opening Ceremony now brings his unique vision to Al Wasl Dome with an uplifting spectacle that underscores the pressing need to achieve a global sustainable existence.
You’ve worked on huge projects like the Olympic Games. How is the Expo 2020 Opening Ceremony different?
It’s actually similar in terms of scale to what we’ve done in the past. I worked in various roles on 15 Olympic ceremonies, which has been amazing, but the one thing that’s different is that we’re right in the centre of the Expo site. And the morning after the Opening Ceremony, the public arrives to explore this beautiful place. So, we have to do our magic on the night of the ceremony, and then we need the space ready for the world to see the very next morning.
Where does your inspiration come from?
It comes from the place we’re in, the stunning Al Wasl Plaza, and from Expo 2020 itself. The organisers know who they are, what their brand is, what they stand for, and what they want to say to the world. And then, of course, from Dubai itself, which has such an abundant heritage. We had such a rich starting point for our creativity.
How have you incorporated the UAE’s heritage?
We’re telling the UAE’s story to the world through a beautifully spoken presentation, but we’re backing it up with images and amazing projections, giving it a fresh, vibrant perception, with more layers and an elevated story.
How do you think the Opening Ceremony will set the tone for the next six months?
You know, for the Olympic Games we say the Opening Ceremony is 50 percent of the success, because it starts you on a good note, and I think the same applies here. If the country is proud, if people enjoy it, if everyone is happy, the world will come to Expo, and that joy will continue throughout the six months.
How does the Opening Ceremony set the standard for mega-events across the world?
We’re setting the standard for all global events through the magnitude and the complexity of everything we’re putting together for a spectacle that will take place for one night only. We’re setting benchmarks for augmented reality, projection systems, and for beautiful audio systems that really set the tone. Other events will follow and replicate those elements. But what we’re most proud of is creativity. We hope our show will inspire and motivate others to create shows that are true celebrations of culture.
Can you briefly talk us through the logistics of directing something of this magnitude?
We have a long rehearsal process and everyone starts small, they learn their part, they do it, and they come back the next day and they do it again. To me, the Opening Ceremony is almost like another rehearsal. I’m just coming in and doing the same thing I did yesterday, but a few more people are watching. If we take that attitude, the big complexity isn’t so big, because we’ve taken it in little bites. And all we do really in the control room is air traffic control.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
The technical challenge is massive. We’ve created a show that’s 90 minutes of cinematic content at a super-high resolution in this amazing dome, which absolutely has to have the right creative execution. I would describe my role as a sculptor. I take Franco Dragone’s clay – his ideas – and I mold them into the story. And then I need to ensure the story is communicated in a way that is both clear and nuanced.
I pick the point on the horizon and say that’s where we’re sailing the ship to. And then everyone gives their ideas in order to get us to that point. I promise Expo – and the world – we’ll get to that point, and then the whole team works to get us there. Yes, there are always creative differences, but the good ideas are apparent: they are like the cream that rises to the top. The best ideas can come from anybody at any level, and it is this incredible collaboration that brings out the best in people.
How did you select the headline talent?
First, we picked artists that had songs that belonged in the ceremony. They had a song that was authentic to the creative idea. Because when you get a star singing their own material, they deliver it with such passion and joy; it’s their song, but it fits our story. That was our main criteria, and then, of course, we wanted to represent the world, we wanted to be plural, and we wanted to reflect the diversity of our planet.
Do you have a favourite character?
There are so many amazing performers, but there’s one amazing 12-year-old girl, Mira Singh, from Belarus, who is our wise sage. She’s our Al Wasl, and she’s done so much – she exceeded my expectations of what was possible for a young talented volunteer.
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