The supply bottlenecks in the home office equipment sector appear to have been overcome for the most part. Notebooks are in stock again, while warehouses are also filling up with inventory in other categories, following the supply shortages at the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown. Stock levels remain low in one particular category, however. With demand remaining high, rising prices are the unavoidable consequence.
Some believe the coronavirus peak has been passed, while others expect a second wave of infections. One thing is certain however: the corona pandemic still has a firm grip on social life, despite some restrictions being lifted again.
As reported by ITscope back in March, the situation in the IT hardware sector was mainly characterised by supply bottlenecks for home office equipment. Notebooks in particular experienced a huge surge in demand, but headsets, monitors and webcams were also among the most sought-after items.
The surge in demand for products of this kind was no coincidence, as the intensity of home office use has clearly reached a new peak with COVID-19. According to a survey by the Bavarian Research Institute for Digital Transformation, 23% of respondents reported working at least once a week in home office before the corona crisis. This percentage has now risen to 39% during the corona crisis. Around 26% of survey participants even stated that they were currently exclusively working from home office.
Despite the challenging situation in the IT equipment market, most companies succeeded in providing their employees with the required infrastructure at short notice. What does the situation look like now? Are stock levels under less pressure as demand is slowing down in a mostly saturated market? And can the availability of notebooks and other equipment be ensured once again?
A recent evaluation of stock levels on the ITscope platform appears to indicate that the situation is improving. Inventory levels have been steadily rising in most home office equipment categories since March. This has not been the case in all categories however, with one popular product category remaining in short supply – resulting in exploding prices.
Stock levels are normalising
Positive news first: total stock levels are now much more stable. “The situation has eased for the time being. After the low point mid-March, stock levels are now rising considerably again. We can definitely see an improvement, especially in the case of notebooks which were so urgently needed just a short time ago”, declared Benjamin Mund, Managing Director of ITscope GmbH.
Evaluation of the top 100 most clicked notebooks since the beginning of 2020, average total stock level per notebook
The trend in total stock levels suggests that if you need a notebook now, you will get one. Currently being among the most popular devices, the Lenovo ThinkPad L590 20Q7 (SKU: 20Q7000XGE) is exemplary for the development during the corona pandemic. Stock levels already fell down to almost zero back in February, with prices noticeably rising in March. ITscope product click statistics also show a clear peak in March. Stocks levels only started normalising at the end of April, while prices are now falling back to normal levels.
Price/stock level/status history and product click history for the Lenovo ThinkPad L590 20Q7 (SKU: 20Q7000XGE), January to May 2020
Slow selling PC systems
Stock levels for PC systems, which are rather unsuitable for home office work, are developing in a completely different direction. Since the end of March, there has been an uninterrupted upward trend in stock levels. This product category is a long way from any stock level slumps or even supply bottlenecks.
Evaluation of the top 100 most clicked PC systems since the beginning of 2020, average total stock per PC system
PC systems seem to be becoming slow sellers during the corona crisis. On the one hand, some companies are currently hesitating when it comes to large infrastructure projects. The uncertainty about the economic situation after COVID-19 is currently too great. Additionally, there has been a change in attitudes regarding new work environments with more flexible working times and opportunities. Home office has greatly gained significance through the corona crisis, and companies seem to be counting on notebooks in areas that previously used a non-portable PC system.
Components such as mainboards and hard disks, on the other hand, were at no time affected by the effects of the corona pandemic, only being subject to the usual fluctuations. In the TFT monitor category, only a small dent in stock levels occurred in mid-March, with levels having now returned to normal again. Stock levels for headsets, which have still been in high demand recently, are also starting to stabilise again.
Webcams in state of exception
One product category has not yet recovered from the corona panic: webcams. While everything seemed normal until mid-March, stock levels have not been able to recover and still remain very low.
Evaluation of the top 100 most clicked webcams since the beginning of 2020, average total stock per webcam
The Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 (SKU: 960-001055), which continues to be in high demand, was often cited as a prime example of the supply and demand principle. The current very high demand for the popular webcam on the ITscope platform not only results in a slump in stock levels and therefore sales, but also causes a major price hike. While the wholesale selling price (WSP) was stable at around €50 until March, a new high of over €250 was reached at the beginning of May.
Price/stock level/status history for the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 (SKU: 960-001055), January to May 2020
An end to this shortage may be in sight for the end of May at the earliest. As the WSP trend in the price/stock level/status graph shows, prices seem to be falling slightly. The deciding factor, however, will be when large distributors are able to supply again. They have not been playing the price increase game, and still offer the webcam at a WSP between €80 and €100 in their listings, but with no available stock or with manufacturer orders coming in at the end of May. We can only hope that normality will also return to this category as soon as stock levels are replenished.
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