Safety and security market grows during COVID-19
While COVID-19 has had a detrimental effect on much of the Australian economy, it seems the safety and security sector has only thrived since restrictions were first implemented. It is for this reason that several safety and security companies have not only continued business as usual, but have also launched innovative products within this growing segment.
Delf is one such company, with Delf General Manager, Peter Crossley, recently discussing the company’s latest product release which he believes raises the bar in modern security.
Delf’s new-to-market smart home range is a technologically advanced, scalable system that takes modern security convenience to the next level, according to Mr Crossley. The new range is so advanced, it may be used as a stand-alone system or paired with a user’s existing appliance brands and technology, he said.
The Delf Focal Hub is the starting point of the range, cleverly harnessing both Google and Alexa voice control. The new Delf offering also includes Wi-Fi and infrared protocol, an inbuilt temperature sensor and inbuilt light sensor. As a cloud-based device control, it is all powered by a USB plug.
Also released as part of the new range is the Delf DDL120 Digital Smart Lock, operated via an easy-to-use and easy-to-program touchpad. Its functionality includes Bluetooth unlock functions with key override (TE2), while up to 150 electronic keys can be generated, with the convenience and security offered by timed access and control.
When looking at any further launches planned for the year ahead for Delf, Mr Crossley said while there may be a slight delay due to the impact of COVID-19, there will be more additions to the Delf Smart Home range as the year progresses.
“Like all areas of the industry in 2020, door hardware continues to be extremely competitive. We firmly believe that having quality products that meet customer needs along with reliable support and distribution, are key to the ability to compete and thrive,” he said.
When discussing COVID-19 and the potential impact the pandemic may present to the hardware industry, including supply shortages to new home builders and other customers, Mr Crossley said Delf will do its utmost to carry as much stock as possible throughout the crisis and beyond.
“This strategy has stood us in good stead during the current crisis and our good stock levels (over much of our range) have been appreciated by our customers. We are continuing to closely monitor the situation and move stock between our Melbourne and Perth warehouses to accommodate current demand,” Mr Crossley said,
“While our supply chain is well positioned to weather the current conditions, there may be some unavoidable delays in the coming months. However, we cautiously envisage that if the COVID-19 curve continues to flatten in Australia and lockdowns are slowly lifted in the near future, supply chains should return to normal across the industry by year-end,” he said.
In the meantime, Mr Crossley remains quite positive on what has been done to ensure the building industry suffers the least amount of impact during the crisis.
“The fact that construction was not shut down during the crisis has been a big plus for the industry overall and we applaud the State and Federal Governments for keeping it going. While there are many predictions by well qualified economists and other leaders about the far-reaching impacts, we remain optimistic that the construction industry will lead the economy’s recovery going forward,” he said.
Industry trends post COVID-19
As Australia’s unemployment numbers rise, some media channels have indicated that consumers’ fear theft could also be on the rise, however Mr Crossley said Delf is yet to see evidence of this.
“For now, we do not have evidence to support that recent sales of Delf products in this category have been spurred on by consumer fears. Rather, we believe it has been a genuine desire by consumers to use the time in isolation to complete home improvement projects, including updating security systems and door hardware in line with the latest technology and on trend styles and finishes,” he said.
Just some of the safety and security products that continue to remain on trend, both before and during the crisis, include integrated and high-tech smart home security, such as Bluetooth locks, which is a developing area.
“With Kwikset’s Touch-to-Open and SmartKey technology, Delf is offering its customers some of the most advanced automated smart home security solutions on the market. There is also big demand for quality black door hardware products, a trend which is well covered by Delf’s Matt Black range of levers, deadbolts and accessories, with matching solutions for exterior and interior doors,” Mr Crossley said.
“While there is no doubt that high tech products represent a growing segment and has many benefits to modern lifestyles, there will also always be a place for traditional products. Our focus in this area is ensuring that the designs, finishes, quality and functionality of Delf’s products throughout the range allow these products to be easily coordinated to any room throughout the home,” he said.
While the safety and security industry continues to see online competition from both local and overseas vendors, many of these products are often of lower quality and are untested, Mr Crossley said. The problem is these products may seem to be of value to the consumer who is price sensitive, he said.
“It is also a well-known fact that these online vendors generally do not have the back-up service offered by traditional suppliers, so they do not have the cost base, Unfortunately, the consumer is not aware of this until something goes wrong with their purchase,” he said.
“All security products are not equal, and the varying quality of products is something consumers need to be very aware of. Especially when it comes to electronics. There is a huge risk in using a no-name brand electronic lock on a front door. We believe this is why there is so much interest in our new advanced technology range, particularly with Delf being a trusted name in the Australian market and Kwikset being a recognised global leader in the field,” Mr Crossley said.
Plans for 2020
As a long-standing Australian business that has built up a trusted brand in the marketplace for over 30 years, Mr Crossley believes it is this trust that will set the business apart now and in years to come.
“The key to our business strategy has been about listening to our customers and developing our range based on quality and innovation to meet their needs. We now have over 2000 products in our range – all available under one roof – and we are delighted as partners of Kwikset to have this new smart home technology available to us. Our very experienced team, reliable supply chain and smart and innovative products, all continue to give us a great competitive edge,” Mr Crossley said.
Mayo Hardware delivers flexibility and convenience into security market
Mayo Hardware is another safety and security supplier that plans to launch a new range of electronic security options to its portfolio in the coming months in an effort to provide continued flexibility and convenience to its users, according to Mayo Hardware Product Manager, Sean Devlin-Look.
“The Mayo Hardware team is very excited about the upcoming launches we have planned and we look forward to sharing more information on this soon. Mayo Hardware is not only looking at potentially extending ranges this year, but also introducing a number of new releases for 2021 which I look forward to sharing later this year,” he said.
Looking to the current market and the affects COVID-19 has had on the global economy, Mr Devlin-Look said that the pandemic is expected to affect business well into 2020, particularly with so many supply shortages world-wide.
“Globally manufacturing plants appear to be in short supply of raw materials and then there is a flow on affect where manufacturing has to catch up on lost time, after a supplier eventually sources materials. When looking at retail sales, these remained particularly strong throughout March when suggestions of lockdown first hit, but I feel this will slow over the coming months when basic essentials become the shopping norm. There is still so much doubt surrounding the future of the economy, industries and jobs,” he said.
Looking locally, as more of the Australian population falls into unemployment due to COVID-19, there is a pre-conception that this may then in-turn increase sales within the safety and security sector. However, Mr Devlin-Look also said it is still too early to tell.
“At the moment I think this is a bit hard to put your finger on. One reason why security sales have been so strong is that sub-consciously people are spending more time at home with their most expensive assets in and around their home. People have moved their businesses to their homes too, so protecting their livelihoods like technology, tools and other assets has become important,” he said.
In saying this, COVID-19 has not yet encouraged any new trends within the retail security industry, he said.
“Security categories that are trending at the moment include products that effectively protect items and also allow the most convenience. Maximum security products like Excell padlocks and combination padlocks deliver the greatest convenience because they allow users to give permission for others to use the lock when they are not home. It is products such as these that continue to gain momentum within the safety and security market. On the other side of the fence, as you can imagine, travel locks are in decline right now,” he said.
“High tech or electronic padlocks would still be worth less than two per cent of the market. The consumer trusts the traditional padlock and that will not change in the near future unless the tech provides unmatched security and a convenience not seen before with a traditional keyed or combination padlock,” he said.
Allegion delivers on quality customer experience
Allegion continues to invest in smart lock technologies throughout 2020, as well as new mechanical hardware innovations in an effort to drive a better customer and user experience, while meeting changing market trends.
When discussing the year ahead and how such innovations are set to grow and evolve, Allegion’s Marketing Manager for Australia and New Zealand, Craig Patterson said while the first part of 2020 saw growth returning to the residential construction market, predictions are pointing to a challenging second half of the year.
“In saying this, due to a robust supply network and hard work implemented by our operations team, we have seen little impact from COVID-19 on Allegion’s ability to supply core products in Australia. However, anytime situations arise such as the COVID-19 crisis, it is a perfect time to reflect on what works, what does not and ensure we adapt to the changing market. What is happening now will impact the way we do business forever, affecting every part of our industry, from manufactures, to retailers and consumers,” Mr Patterson said.
“In the meantime, we are continuing to look at every part of our business to improve the customer experience and support our customers. It is predicted that the building industry will face some challenges over the coming 18-24 months and it is important we face these challenges together with our customers with innovative solutions,” he said.
While workplace safety and security has been a big focus for many businesses who have invested heavily in the area over the past few months, the focus for residential has remained primarily with renovations and DIY jobs, according to Mr Patterson.
In the past six months, and towards the end of 2019, Allegion also launched its Schlage Encode Wi-Fi smart deadbolt. Working with home automation platforms like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant without the need for additional modules, the new product is proving to be a popular addition to the Schlage connected lock range while supporting continued growth in the smart and connected home lock market, he said.
“Further innovations for Allegion include the recent launch of a range of 316 stainless steel hardware under our Austral Lock brand called Verta, designed specifically for the aluminium door market,” Mr Patterson said.
ASSA ABLOY advances in uncertain times
ASSA ABLOY has also continued to innovate the market despite the COVID-19 crisis, with the recent launch of its Yale Digital Deadlatch Upgrade Kit, designed specifically to allow users with a 60 millimetre back set mechanical deadlatch (Lockwood 001/002 or Whitco W75 versions) to upgrade to keyless access.
The Upgrade Kit is not only easy to install, but adds to many popular digital features such as programming up to 20 pin codes and 20 RFID key tags/cards. Extended features include allowing homeowners to set time restricted PIN codes for up to 24 hours, allowing visitors limited access when needed, according to ASSA ABLOY’s Senior Product Manager, Eric Sindel.
“The market response has been positive as more deadlatch users are seeking to move towards a digital solution and the flexibility and security it offers,” Mr Sindel said.
“We are always working on the development of new products to expand our digital product range offerings. Our expectation is 2020 will be a big year for Yale digital locks, with a number of product launches planned to launch shortly that we believe will raise the bar in the digital locking space.”
“As our Yale digital lock portfolio expands, we are able to provide consumers with a varying range of products suitable to varying applications. Having an increasing range offering provides us with greater point of difference in the market and against competitors,” he said.
ASSA ABLOY has continued to experience positive sales trends despite the COVID-19 pandemic as more consumers stay in and possibly tackle home improvements they may have been putting off, Mr Sindel said.
“From a manufacturing perspective we are operating as normal and not experiencing any notable delays in our supply of product or components. We have not seen a large-scale reduction in demand to date especially in our residential digital range of offerings.”
“Demand for our digital products remain positive which is likely due to a mix of people having more time at home to tackle home improvements and an interest in the safety and security benefits that a digital lock has to offer,” he said.
While it seems traditional locks will always be a market requirement, with consumer awareness growing on digital and connected products for the home, we are seeing increased interest in products that allow consumers to access their homes easily while still providing the security expected from a mechanical offering, according to Mr Sindel.
“Like all digital and connected products, the current market is becoming increasingly competitive as user awareness and adoption rates climb. Whilst larger brands continue to compete in the space, there are also a number of new brands entering the market, creating a diverse spectrum of offerings and applications,” he said.
“Overseas websites create challenges in the digital lock space, with many low-cost imported products making it onto Australian doors. The issue here is that these products may not be certified and tested to the Australian standards, digital requirements and to the safety level your everyday consumer expects.”
“Educating consumers on how digital locks can still provide the safety and security of traditional locks is a key challenge today. Internet banking was treated as sceptical when it was first introduced but now nearly every second person is banking via the internet. These things take time and will eventuate with digital locks becoming a standard on Australian front doors in the near future,” Mr Sindel said.