Chinese manufacturer, Xiaomi, sold a large volume of devices in India in 2014 through exclusive agreements with online retailer, Flipkart. The online-only strategy paid well for the company to get a sense of business in the India market, its customer base expanded to 1,000 cities in the country in a matter six months. But still, for a developing country like India, a very large number of customers still rely on purchasing stuff from local stores, getting the feel in hand first before spending their money on something.
Xiaomi obviously doesn’t want to miss out the offline market, where local manufacturers like Micromax, Xolo and others are ruling the budget smartphone market. It’s a market segment already flooded with loads of other companies, and Xiaomi is relatively new in India. To combat this situation, Xiaomi is partnering with Airtel to sell its devices offline in India through Airtel Stores.
Airtel have stores everywhere in the country, so it makes for a good start for Xiaomi to begin selling its devices offline in India. Also, India isn’t the country where people buy phones from carrier outlets, so carriers don’t carry much devices on shelves in the stores. But people do walk-in to these stores for their network related needs. Xiaomi’s presence in Airtel stores with no devices from rival manufacturers would help for its devices to stand out easily.
For now, Xiaomi is only testing the viability of this business model. The company’s recently launched device Redmi Note 4G will make it to shelves of select Airtel stores in six cities in India. This particular device is also beneficial for Airtel as it is the only carrier in the country currently offering 4G services, and given the Redmi Note 4G’s price, it makes a good combination for Airtel to sell the 4G supported device and thereby also expand its customer base for its 4G services.
“If this works out fine, we’ll expand the partnership to other cities and other devices,” said Manu Jain, head of Xiaomi in India.
Xiaomi makes great devices. People who have purchased Xiaomi phones in 2014 by online means have only given positive reviews for the company’s devices. If the offline retailing tests prove profitable to Xiaomi, which we very much expect, and the company does expand to more cities than it’ll be a tough competition to local manufacturers who have been enjoying the offline markets for the past couple of years.