Unlike smartphones, online outlets are primary channel for mobile accessories

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While mobile operators maintain the major stake in mobile phone sales in the US market, the rise in online retailing trends holds top spot as the primary retail channel for accessories.

Credit: coolsees.com
Credit: coolsees.com

Analyst firm ABI Research said in a report that compared to the purchase of mobile or smartphones, consumers are more likely to purchase mobile accessories online.

?Mobile service providers are the main channel for purchase of mobile phones, but they are quite selective with the accessories they offer,? said David McQueen, research director at ABI Research.

?As such, fewer consumers choose to purchase mobile accessories from mobile operators. Accessory purchases within the online store segment are increasing due to rising Internet penetration rates and the ease of access to a wide variety of products.?

There is high aftermarket demand for two mobile phone accessories: chargers and protective cases.

According to report findings, 81% of respondents owned a charger from the original purchase, with 49% noting that they also planned to buy additional chargers.

Meanwhile, 15% of respondents received a protective case when they purchased their mobile phone, either in-box or as part of a manufacturer/ carrier promotional bundle, with more than 62% purchasing one aftermarket.

While a majority of customers purchase their devices from mobile phone manufacturers, most wait to buy accessories and often do not return to their mobile phone manufacturer to do so. Consumers instead turn to the e-commerce sites of major retail outlets, such as Walmart, and brick-and-mortars, which offer many low-cost mobile device accessories.

Realizing competition is mounting, mobile phone manufacturers are becoming more engaged in the design and sale of aftermarket accessories. Despite their increased efforts, though, there is still room for other players to enter the market.

?The market is highly fragmented, making it relatively easy for an accessory manufacturer to hone in on a specific segment, such as Zagg?s focus on screen protection or OtterBox?s specialization in protection cases,? concluded McQueen.

?To stay in the game, accessory manufacturers need to be smart in anticipating product launches and disruptions to the market, adapting their products accordingly so that they neither become obsolete or late to market. Branding strategies are also important; Zagg uses InvisibleShield for screen protectors, iFrogz for audio, and its own branding for keyboards and select cases.?

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