Newstead Technologies first started in 1998 by Mindy Tan with a single computer retail store in Funan Centre (now Funan DigitaLife Mall), followed by a second one in Singapore’s electronics mecca Sim Lim Square in 2000. Focusing on retailing personal computers to end-consumers, the company quickly grew to whopping 33 stores around the country by the latter part of 2008. Today, it has some 40 stores islandwide.
Some of its growth can be attributed to concept stores – it started its first concept store in 2002 showcasing Fujitsu products, and Nübox, which focuses on Apple products, are the latest. These concept stores are specially furbished and dedicated to one specific brand, with sales staff fully equipped with the brand’s product knowledge and expertise. Nübox recently celebrated the opening of its fifth and sixth Apple concept stores at Raffles City Shopping Centre and Tampines Mall respectively, with the one at Raffles City its largest store ever.
Concentrating On The ‘Switcher’ Market
“As the personal computing scene has evolved, we recognized the increase in acceptance of Apple products, leading our management to invest more in the Apple branding,” says Evelyn Chua, Nübox’s business and marketing manager. Hence, the birth of Nübox. She explains that, unlike some of its competitors, Nübox is different in that it targets the ‘switcher’ market, i.e. those who convert from traditional Microsoft or Linux-based personal computers to Macs. “Due to our background in the PC market, our pioneer team are switchers themselves,” she says. “They understand the concerns, anxiety and interests of the customers who are keen to switch to a Mac, with this they are able to relate, assuage and encourage customers to make the switch with peace of mind.”
Another differentiation of Nübox is its proliferation of stores in heartland malls. “We bring the Apple experience closer to the customers’ homes,” Evelyn says. “So now customers can shop nearer to their homes and after-sales support is also more convenient to them, making family shopping made convenient.”
A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats
The launch of the iPhone and, more recently, the iPad, Evelyn notes, created a ‘halo effect’ and generated a lot of interest for other Apple products. Familiarity with the interface and the ease of device integration, unsuprisingly, has also led to an uptake for Macs. All Apple products tend to sell well, she admits, but its best selling one is definitely the iPad.
One trend that they’ve recognized is that as the demand for Apple products grow, the third party accessory ecosystem and market has also grown exponentially. “The accessories have become more exciting, creative and even personalised,” observes Evelyn.
“Retail is a manpower intensive industry,” Evelyn says. “One of the biggest challenges for us is to be able to engage retail staff with a passion for Mac products who can bring the best experience to our customers.”
But the company’s growth strategy is clear. “Nübox will continue to grow to meet demand for Apple products,” Evelyn says, adding that they will continue to open stores in heartland malls and key malls near where people work, such as Nex and Marina Bay Link Mall.