Home Sourcing Guide 2022 for Retailers: Riding the CES Wave

Sourcing Guide 2022 for Retailers: Riding the CES Wave

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has always been a valuable window for global B2B businesses, entrepreneurs, and innovators to stay ahead of the curve and identify market opportunities brought by the latest technology innovations and how they shape the economy and consumer behavior.

This year’s CES heralded a new wave of products and innovation as demand for new technology remains sky-high amidst ongoing disruptions from the pandemic. The organizers of CES, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), expect US consumer technology revenues might hit a record $505 billion this year. Retailers are embracing e-commerce like never before, as online shopping habits formed during lockdowns over the past two years haven’t gone away. And that’s a huge opportunity for retailers in the field.

Global sourcing: Your key to riding the CES wave

January is the optimal time for retailers and brands to plan for the coming year. To fully capitalize on CES trends, retailers must prepare in advance so they have the right sought-after products in stock when consumer demand comes.

Being able to access manufacturers and suppliers from near and far can be a big advantage when merchandising or going to market with new products that ride the trend of the latest consumer preferences. But sourcing globally can be a complex, time-consuming process even at the best of times, and disruptions from the pandemic have only added to the challenge.

Here are some factors for sourcing success, as well as key challenges that retailers and brands have to overcome:

  • Decide on what to stock, early. In the current environment, however, retailers and brands must decode current market trends and stay ahead of the game to figure out the right item to stock – something that has become more difficult as tech and consumer trends change rapidly and markets diversify in terms of products, styles, and specifications.

  • Identify and verify reliable suppliers that can ensure product quality and timely order fulfillment. This has been made challenging during the pandemic, with restricted travel and reduced in-person meetings and visits.

  • Have a robust logistics, shipping, and fulfillment chain. When working with global sellers, cross-border logistics can add another layer of complexity, especially amidst current uncertainty.

Thankfully, B2B e-commerce marketplaces such as Alibaba.com offer tools and services that can help buyers overcome these pain points and make global sourcing for consumer electronics easier, more efficient, and more reliable than ever.

This guide, put together by Dealerscope, in collaboration with Alibaba.com, draws on insights from suppliers and global sourcing experts in the industry. It aims to help US-based B2B buyers source for success in the consumer electronics sector by sharing practical tips on six key areas:

  • How to tap opportunities driven by the technology “megatrends” of greater connectivity and immersive experience (VR, AR, and MR)

  • How to source for success in three hot categories for 2022: enhanced entertainment, smarter homes, and improved wellbeing.

  • How to tailor your sourcing strategy to the demands and trends of each market

  • How to efficiently match with the right supplier based on key indicators and metrics

  • How to find the right quality product by searching and filtering with key criteria

  • How to align with industry cycles and take advantage of key events to source for the coming year
Today, technology is in everything, so CES, even when it’s smaller post-pandemic, remains a gargantuan global event covering nearly every industry and product under the sun, as long as there is a tech angle. Yes, there are still TVs, high-end audio components, and cameras, but there are also now new areas devoted to categories such as food tech and digital health.” Dealerscope editor-in-chief Tom Samiljan.
“Alibaba.com is rapidly enhancing its diversified industry supply around consumer and tech trends to provide global B2B buyers with quality products at reasonable prices to meet end-consumer demand. Against this backdrop, if US buyers want to profit from industry trends towards upgrading in the consumer electronics industry, they need to plan in advance, focus on the key demands of end consumers, and choose products well, while following key trends and seizing related opportunities by rapid iteration of production/supply to meet the needs of different consumer groups.” Ivan Zou, Director of Category Management for Consumer Electronics and Home Appliances Products on Alibaba.com.

Tip 1: Seize opportunities driven by transformative technology “megatrends”

Over the years, CES has foreshadowed some of the most important shifts in the recent history of technology. As such, the event is always a valuable window for buyers to identify how cutting-edge technologies and innovations might translate into new applications and market opportunities.

Increasingly, these shifts are not limited to any single sector or product category, but rather overarching technology trends that cut across multiple sectors, reshaping existing markets and creating whole new product categories in the process. CES 2022 featured a wide range of exhibitors showcasing two of the most compelling technology megatrends of the future.

The first megatrend is enhanced connectivity driven by the continued development of the Internet of Things (IoT) and related technologies. The second megatrend is the rise of immersive experience applications in many different sectors, from gaming and retail to healthcare and manufacturing. This section takes a closer look at two megatrends and how buyers can benefit from them.

Sourcing suggestion

Use CES as a window to identify new trends and technologies that might translate into market opportunities. In particular, look for products and categories where technology trends such as IoT and immersive experience intersect with consumer demands such as health, wellness, security, and convenience.   

“Ever-more connected” – the Internet of Things

The first “megatrend” for buyers to watch is ever greater connectivity driven by the rollout of  the Internet of Things (IoT), and related technologies. This is supporting the development of a rich ecology of connected products and services that work in harmony together, opening up new applications and possibilities for consumers.

This year, we might see IoT combined with other technologies and used for new applications in various fields. For example, Dealerscope has highlighted how smart devices have been used to make places of work and leisure safer during the pandemic.

Fitness centers across the nation have been utilizing crowd trackers to keep guests safe and distant during the pandemic. A similar version can be used in an office setting to help employees maintain social distancing when they are on-site. We can even see businesses incorporate smart office capabilities with minimal in-office capacity by simply using smart lighting, power, and energy systems to save overall operating costs with fewer employees on-site. The continued advancement of our wireless networks and IoT devices might aid business owners immensely as they adapt to the new ways to operate their company. 

What to watch

  • Devices that combine IoT with other technologies such as wireless charging to provide convenience for the home. As homes fill up with power-hungry connected devices, more manufacturers are deploying wireless charging technology to alleviate the need for frequent charging or battery replacement, a function that featured prominently in the CES 2022 Innovation Awards. Wireless charging products to watch for in 2022 include alarm clocks and smart lights. Of course, there might also be continued demand for voice control devices to manage all of these connected devices.

Featured supplier: Dongguan Yu Yang Electronics

Dongguan Yu Yang Electronics makes a range of products for the home such as wireless charging devices and Bluetooth headsets. Taking advantage of the new possibilities opened up by combining technologies such as IoT, and wireless charging, the company continually upgrades products that can make consumers’ everyday lives more convenient and efficient. Its hot new products for the coming year include wireless charging alarm clocks, smart lights, and voice intelligent control for home appliances.

The rise of immersive experience

The second overarching trend to highlight is the rise of technologies that enable immersive experiences such as VR, AR, and MR – collectively referred to as “XR.” Sales of VR headsets have risen dramatically and are now in the tens of millions, with an estimated rise of 40-50 percent in 2021 over 2020.

You’ve probably heard all about the Metaverse and some tech companies are betting heavily on the future of this technology. But AR, VR, and MR technologies also have a great deal more to offer across many categories, offering users compelling real-time experiences that can be applied in many sectors, from gaming and retail to healthcare, fitness, and even manufacturing.

“​​Even as the pandemic becomes less acute, it seems likely that many might continue working out from home,” Dealerscope said in its recent examination of the popularity of VR headsets. “One of the primary drivers here is convenience, and VR certainly benefits from this. Rather than having to drive or otherwise commute to the gym for a 30-to-60-minute workout, simply putting on a headset for a few shorter workouts throughout the day can have the same cumulative effect, and better break up one’s workday.”

What to watch

  • VR-powered immersive gaming devices. The global market for VR gaming is expected to maintain annual compound annual growth of over 30% through 2028 according to Fortune Business Insights, driven by advances in technology, gaming content, cloud-based gaming technology, and of course innovative new hardware. In addition to the rising popularity of general VR gaming consoles from names like Oculus and Sony, there is also a growing market for specialized VR devices, especially those that let users get a workout while they have fun. Dealerscope has covered the rising popularity of VR-based fitness products, a category that also includes dance fitness hardware like this 9D VR Dancing Simulator.

  • VR applications in healthcare. This year might see the release of new immersive experience solutions to meet the demand for remote healthcare as the pandemic continues. One innovative example showcased at CES 2022 was the re:Vive platform that uses VR/AR software inside a special headset to guide patients and healthcare providers through several diagnostic vision and health examinations

  • AR glasses: gateways to the metaverse. CES also highlighted the rise of XR devices such as AR glasses that allow users to enter and interact with the metaverse. MAD Gaze is set to showcase its new AR smart glasses and top fashion brands such as Ray-Ban also have AR products in the pipeline. One affordable solution already on the market in this category are these Rokid Air AR Glasses

Tip 2: Source for success in hot product categories

January is the key timing for US B2B buyers to plan for the coming year and identify hot product categories and the best items to source within those fields.

On the back of CES 2022, as the pandemic continues and consumers remained focused on their health, homes, and families, our experts have picked out three categories for US B2B buyers to pay attention to, based on current market trends and new technology that intersects with these trends. These are home entertainment, smart homes, and health and wellness. In this section, we take a closer look at each of these categories and highlight trends to watch for the coming year.

(Home and family) Enhanced entertainment

The home entertainment category continues to boom as consumers invest to enjoy the ultimate entertainment experience in the comfort of their own homes. Nowhere is this more evident than in the adoption of advanced TV formats for home viewing. 2021 marked a tipping point, with more than half of consumers now owning a 4k TV, according to CTA’s 23rd Annual Consumer Tech Ownership & Market Potential Study.

TVs are always a focal point of attention at CES and this year’s event was no exception, but there were also exciting new launches of state-of-the-art technology in other categories such as projectors and high-end audio.

What to watch

  • TVs: Bigger, brighter, more pixels. The trend towards larger TVs continues, with super-sized models taking up more and more market share as dimensions reach 90 inches and beyond. Meanwhile, the trend towards advanced technologies continues. While 8K TVs have featured at CES for many years, they are expected to take a step forward this year. Home ownership of 4K TVs jumped 16% in 2021 and strong sales are expected to continue this year. And while prices have gone up of late, manufacturers see them easing up in 2022. Popular models in the 4K category include Weier TV suppliers’ 4k LED/LCD television 65 inches Smart TV; another Android LED TV 65 inch full flat screen 4K smart TV, and the On Line Spring Festival OEM UHD Screen 4K LED Television Smart Curved TV.

  • Versatile projectors for new use scenarios. The projector category is diversifying as manufacturers take advantage of advances in technology to develop products tailored for different use scenarios such as outdoors or on-the-move. Affordable options in this category that buyers may want to check out include mini projectors such as this pocket portable LED DLP projector and mini touch pocket portable from Shenzhen Hotack, which offer short throw ratios that allow users to recreate a home theater in smaller spaces such as a bathroom.

  • On the audio side, the name of the game might be multi-channel and integrated audio. As more consumers watch big new movie releases at home on their large TVs, they are seeking home theater audio equipment to match. CTA estimates that 36% of US consumers now own a soundbar, up six points in 2021, a figure that is sure to rise in 2022. Small speakers also remain popular, with increasingly high sound quality and built for use in all conditions, such as the wireless and waterproof Portable Speaker IPX6.

Featured supplier: Shenzhen Hotack

Hotack Technology specializes in screens and projectors and is based in the global hardware innovation capital of Shenzhen. With an R&D team of around 50 people supported by research from third-party data companies, the firm is continuously working to upgrade its LCD and DLP products for the US and European markets, improving aspects such as auto-focus, auto-correction, trapezoid correction, and optical heat dissipation.

(Home and family) Smarter homes

The smart home category continues to become more popular, as products become smarter, easier to use, and more secure. More time at home has spurred consumers to invest more in a range of smart solutions for the home. This year, CES highlighted smart home products that emphasize reducing energy consumption, accessibility, and security – trends that certainly won’t be going away anytime soon.

According to statista.com, the market penetration rate of smart home technology in the U.S. is 40.1 percent as of 2021, but it might grow to 43.8 percent in 2022, before reaching 57.3 percent in 2025. Given these trends, the smart home category remains an important one for US B2B buyers to understand for 2022 and beyond.

What to watch

  • New smart home applications. Manufacturers are taking advantage of increasing smart home adoption to develop products in new categories. Recent CTA Innovation Awards give a flavor of some of the hot categories to watch, including smart speakers, robot vacuum cleaners, and even a smart portal for keeping track of pets that can monitor and control key access points to the home.
  • Touchless technology. Hands-free devices made a splash at last year’s CES, and this continues to be a big theme for smart home devices in 2022 as the pandemic continues. Moen and Kohler showcased new touchless faucets at CES 2022 that offer temperature control with the wave of a hand. Other products to pay attention to in this category include smart touchless video doorbells, toilets, and refrigerators.    

Featured supplier: Weizhisheng Technology

With annual cross-border sales of over $100 million, Weizhisheng Technology is a leading provider of innovative smart home solutions including robot vacuum cleaners and kitchen appliances such as air fryers and mixers. The company has a dedicated R&D team and has won a range of accolades for its products, including the Red Design Award, iF Design Award, and Good Design Award, backed with FCC and CE quality certification for the US and Europe, respectively.

Weizhisheng offers a range of services to benefit US B2B buyers, including customization for large, medium, or small quantities, and local warehousing in the US to cut delivery times. The firm also tailors its offering for different markets, such as supplying vacuum cleaner accessories to match local cleaning habits in the US.    

Sourcing suggestions

People’s homes and habits vary in different geographies, so when looking for smart home products, look for suppliers with offerings customized to your target market.

Improved Wellbeing

A large number of surveys show that two years into the pandemic, consumers are more focused on health and wellness than ever before, reinforcing trends that long predate the pandemic. The global wellness market is now worth more than $1.5 trillion with annual growth of 5 to 10 percent, according to estimates by McKinsey.

Increasingly, consumers are turning to technology to help them lead healthy and happy lives and digital health was a highlight theme of CES 2022. According to the CTA, 20% of US householders have had their first experience with online health services since 2020 and the same proportion says they might continue to use such services into 2022.

This year’s CES highlighted solutions to lower healthcare costs, improve health equity, and help people live longer. Improved wellbeing is sure to be a growth category for US B2B buyers well into the future, regardless of what direction the pandemic takes.

What to watch

  • Health monitoring, fitness, and wearables: Smartwatches and bracelets that can monitor health indicators remain a category to watch for 2022. Almost a quarter of US homes now have smart or connected health monitoring devices and smartwatch ownership is 35%, according to CTA. On the regulatory side, the FDA is moving to grant clearance for advanced patient health monitors for medical applications, which could help open new market opportunities in this category. US B2B buyers seeking to align with the growing demand for health monitoring products should look for new models offering enhanced functionality such as oxygen uptake monitoring or acute patient monitors.
  • Digital health. This category has seen a lot of pandemic-driven growth and it is notable that this year Abbott Labs was the first-ever healthcare company to keynote at CES. Digital health goes beyond physical health and wellness to include digital therapeutics and mental health and offers solutions to make access to healthcare more equitable.
  • Hygiene and purification. Many companies are focusing on innovations to help adapt to greater demand for hygiene in the post-pandemic era. For example, Jiangsu Schwarzwald has integrated UVcLED semiconductor technology into air purification equipment to develop a practical solution that can be used to effectively sterilize enclosed environments everywhere from hospital wards to schools.

Featured supplier: Jiangsu Schwarzwald Tech

Jiangsu Schwarzwald Tech specializes in air environment management solutions. In 2022, the firm plans to up its R&D investment by 300 percent, with most of that investment going to disinfection and sterilization products. Also in 2022, Jiangsu is emphasizing products that are “smarter” and “greener.” The company has made inroads into many markets around the world and boasts annual foreign trade exports of over USD 25 million.

Tip 3: Tailor your sourcing strategy

When it comes to sourcing, there is no “one-size-fits-all” strategy that works for every product category and every market. This is even more so in today’s market environment of fast-changing consumer trends and product innovation.

To fully capitalize on opportunities brought by the new consumer electronics wave, US B2B buyers need sourcing strategies tailored to the demands and relative maturity of each market. The optimal sourcing strategy might depend on a range of factors from the relative maturity of the product in question to the attributes of different local markets.

According to the latest version of Dealerscope’s Top 101 Retailers list, the companies that “already had or were able to pivot to e-commerce or omnichannel options” were best able to succeed during the pandemic era, and came in near the top of the list. Omnichannel-savvy brick-and-mortar stores that capitalized on digital commerce options for curbside pickup also benefited.

Custom sourcing for established products

For established products where market demand is stable and product iteration is relatively slow, custom sourcing offers a way for US B2B buyers to achieve cost control, stable/consistent supply, and high quality. Custom sourcing refers to working with an offshore manufacturer that produces products on behalf of a company. For established products subject to fierce price competition, buyers may consider seeking a custom sourcing channel that can supply goods at a competitive landing cost. For example, a buyer sourcing TWS (True Wireless Stereo) Bluetooth headsets should be looking for a landing cost per unit in the region of $5.

Sourcing for new and unique products

Many retailers, such as those that run their own stores on Amazon or Shopify, want to offer unique/novel or innovative products to stand out from the crowd. These newer products are typically subject to constant market changes and rapid iteration. For example, ring lights for vlogging or live streaming have been popular for some years now, but this season consumers are now demanding models that can accommodate multiple phones to meet their needs.

To succeed in these fast-changing product categories, US B2B buyers need to adopt a sourcing strategy that allows them to respond to market changes with speed and precision. Typically, this calls for sourcing strategies that allow fast supply, delivery and sales, such as small batches or RTS (Ready to Ship) products.

Sourcing suggestion

US B2B buyers often have to cater to various end-users with different demands. To support a diversified sourcing strategy that can meet these various needs, it may help to forge a relationship with a versatile supplier that can provide a range of options for the same product such as RTS and customization.

Tip 4: Use key indicators to match with the right supplier

To source for success, US B2B buyers must choose not only the right product, but also the right supplier. But with literally millions of sellers on platforms such as Alibaba.com, how to choose the right one?

To choose the right supplier, the basic factors that must be considered include price, supplier capabilities, product certification, minimum order quantity, shipping times, and logistics costs. The relative weight of these factors might depend on the product and particular market conditions. B2B e-commerce marketplaces offer various tools to help you find the right supplier based on these attributes.

B2B buyers often want to look beyond the basic criteria mentioned above to gain a comprehensive picture of the strengths of a particular supplier, including their capabilities to fulfill larger orders or supply customized products.

In this case, buyers can check a range of relevant metrics listed under the company profile of a supplier on Alibaba.com, covering aspects such as trade capacity, production capacity, and R&D capacity. Key indicators to gauge and compare include:  

  • Innovation and new product development: According to interviews with suppliers on Alibaba.com, Dealerscope concluded that having a dedicated R&D team and fixed annual investment in R&D in the region of 10-30% of GMV are hallmarks of a supplier committed to innovation and new product development. Also, look for suppliers that offer both customization and RTS products that can help you meet different demands from various end-users.
  • Ability to fulfill large international orders: Look for a proven track record in terms of cross-border sales volume and global supply chain assets such as local in-market warehouses to mitigate risk from logistics disruption.
  • Global service: Is the supplier equipped to serve customers in different markets, such as having the capability to offer local after-sales service?

Sourcing suggestions

On Alibaba.com, you can target and filter your search based on different criteria and special labels that verify supplier certification and capabilities. For example, if delivery time is a critical factor in your selection, the platform distinguishes and labels customized products and RTS products so that buyers can quickly sort between these options when choosing.

Look for special badges on Alibaba.com that may provide information regarding the reliability and trustworthiness of a supplier. For example, orders from a “Trade Assurance” supplier on Alibaba.com can be covered by order protection.

Featured supplier: Fotopro

Fotopro makes a range of accessories for photography and video and is best known for its high-quality tripods. The firm boasts 217 patents and a 20-person R&D team, largely focused on improving user experience, the health and safety of the materials, and the reliability of performance. With 30 offices and agents in the U.S. and Europe, the company is well equipped to serve western markets and has worked to raise quality and efficiency despite the pandemic. In the future, it plans to line up its product marketing with “the needs of the video era.”

Tip 5: Search by key criteria to find the right product efficiently

Look for product innovations that meet real consumer demands. Remember that no matter how impressive a new product or innovation is, it won’t sell well unless it meets a real consumer demand. Identify areas where new innovations intersect with consumer trends such as increased concern about health, hygiene, or well-being.

Once you have identified a product type to source, use relevant criteria to shortlist and select your chosen product efficiently. In particular, pay attention to the features and specifications listed on the product page that are most relevant to consumer demands in your chosen market.

  • Quality: Product quality and performance are paramount when sourcing consumer technology.
  • Delivery time. Pay attention to delivery times on product listings to make sure the item can reach you in time. For time-sensitive orders, buyers may wish to search for RTS products or items that come with a delivery time guarantee.

Remember to consider the overall cost of a product. One common mistake that buyers make is to focus only on the listed price on the product page. In reality, the overall cost of a product is determined by many factors, including the underlying product price, logistics costs, and after-sales costs.

Taking full consideration of all logistics costs is particularly important when sourcing RTS products, especially amidst current challenges and high shipping costs amidst the pandemic. For some RTS products, particularly lower value items, logistics costs can far exceed the cost of the product itself. For retailers, these additional costs can make the difference between whether a product is profitable or not. For such products where the ratio of logistics to product unit cost is high, buyers may wish to opt for LCL or DDP delivery to safeguard inventories while controlling logistics costs.

Tip 6: Timing is everything

In a fast-moving sector like consumer technology, timing is everything. Product lifecycles have become shorter because of rapid changes in technology and consumer demand. This means older products or even entire product categories can become obsolete almost overnight. The issue of timing has become even more critical amidst current supply chain and logistics challenges. It’s no good securing a great deal with a supplier if the market has already moved on by the time the products arrive and can be shipped to end customers.

To succeed in this fast-moving and uncertain market, retailers must be agile and adept in leveraging the advantages of global sourcing. This means diversifying supply channels and finding capable suppliers with robust global supply chains so that you are in a position to catch the window of opportunity and profit by meeting demand in fast-changing markets.

Watch your calendar and plan forward to stay ahead of the pack. Retailers should be aware of seasonal rhythms in the industry and consumption and plan ahead accordingly. Key brands usually launch new products in January and July.

What to watch

The first month of the year is always a crucial period as consumer electronics buyers watch CES for new trends and technologies to upgrade their products. This is the best time for buyers to implement sourcing plans for the coming year to “ride the CES wave” and find new suppliers that match their needs to prepare for production from March.

To coincide with this window, Alibaba.com is expecting to launch its 2022 Consumer Electronics Online Trade Show from January 3 to 16. This event might see top manufacturers showcase cutting-edge products and manufacturing service capabilities via live streaming and roundtables, as well as platforms to allow global B2B buyers to match and interact with suppliers more efficiently.


About Dealerscope

Dealerscope is the Leader in Consumer Technology Retail Media.  No other brand can connect with and engage with the Consumer Technology audience like Dealerscope does with our in-depth coverage, news, analysis, and profiles that highlight the people, strategies, and trends that move our industry.  Our audience are Consumer Electronics and Appliance Retailers, Distributor and Manufacturers; Manufacturers’ Representatives; and Custom Installers.  We provide you with transformative brand-building opportunities through cutting-edge advertising and marketing solutions that integrate best-in-class strategies, innovative digital platforms, and authoritative content.

About Alibaba.com

Alibaba.com is a global B2B e-commerce platform that offers a variety of tools and services to make global sourcing easier and more efficient, such as dropshipping, Ready-to-ship, and flexible customization abilities.

With 200 million products from 200,000 different suppliers, including 750,000 niche products over 40 major categories, Alibaba.com is ideally placed to help US B2B buyers find the right products from the right suppliers and ride the consumer electronics wave in 2022.

The content is sponsored by Alibaba.com


The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials presented are for general informational purposes only and may not constitute the most up-to-date information. Alibaba.com does not endorse or recommend the suppliers or products featured in this article. To the extent this article contains links to other third-party content, such links are only for the convenience of the reader, user or browser; Alibaba.com does not recommend or endorse such content. The views expressed at, or through, this article, are those of the individual authors writing in their individual capacities only – not those of Alibaba.com. All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this article are hereby expressly disclaimed.  The content contained in this posting is provided “as is;” no representations are made that the content is error-free.