Xiaomi's Big Bazaar partnership signifies a change of tide at the Chinese smartphone company

Xiaomi aims to capture 30 percent sales from the offline segment by year-end.

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The next time you go shopping for daily commodities at a Big Bazaar outlet, you will be able to shop for popular Xiaomi phones as well. The Chinese smartphone marker has announced a partnership with India’s biggest offline supermarket chain in a bid to expand its offline reach. Here’s what happens next.

Xiaomi entered the Indian market in July 2014 and followed the online-only model and sold its initial set of products through Flipkart. In a very short period of time, the company has flourished in the Indian market and went on to become the number two brand in the country, thanks to the precise balance it was able to strike with price and features. India as a market is one which is dominated more by the price. While there is demand for high-end devices, the sales figures suggest affordable or budget devices is what the major chunk of the population is looking out for. Xiaomi, with its popular Redmi phones has earned itself consumer loyalty, based only on the online model initially.

This year, the company accelerated and aimed to tap on the potential the offline market holds. From online-only model, Xiaomi launched its Mi Home stores in India. The first store opened in Bengaluru earlier this year, followed by similar stores in Delhi-NCR. The company plans to open around 200 such standalone stores over the next two years. ALSO READ: Mi MIX 2 India launch proves that Xiaomi is more than just a budget smartphone maker

Talking about Xiaomi’s offline presence, the company already has offline retail partners including Croma, Vijay Sales, Poorvika, and the latest to join its list is Big Bazaar. As part of its partnership with Big Bazaar, Xiaomi will sell Redmi 4 and Redmi Note 4 phones at special prices at 240 stores of the supermarket chain. Big Bazaar boasts a total of 289 stores across India. Given the sheer presence of the supermarket chain, we are likely to see sales figures jump by leaps and bounds post Diwali. The two phones in particular are the highest selling in India and often go out of stock as soon as they go up for flash sales.

While it is unclear if Xiaomi’s partnership with Big Bazaar will extend beyond the festive period, the move is clearly in the direction of realizing the company’s goal of reaching 30 percent sales from the offline market by the year end. According to IDC, Xiaomi accounted for 17 percent market share in India, standing close to Samsung which reigns at 24 percent. The strong growth and the positive sales coming with affordable devices suggests Xiaomi’s better positioned against competitors Oppo, Vivo, and OnePlus.

The latest move by Chinese manufacturers operating in India comes on the sidelines of the Indian government’s careful approach towards permitting single-brand stores. Earlier this month, Oppo received government’s nod to set up its own retail stores in the country. Apple, on the other hand, has been in a long-standing battle with the government on relaxing some of the norms to be able to set up its own retail stores in India. Even as the government is being stingy on easing mandatory local sourcing for foreign manufacturers, brands such as Xiaomi have found a cleverer way of penetrating the offline market by not only locally manufacturing in the country, but also tying up with some of the biggest offline retail chains to expand presence. ALSO READ: Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 Review: When a smartphone becomes an experience

Other than Xiaomi, other manufacturers are also gradually moving towards the offline market. Recently, OnePlus which became the top premium smartphone brand online, with a market share of 57 percent in India, also tied up with Croma to expand its presence in the offline segment. The company has always followed the online-only model before introducing its ‘OnePlus Experience Store’ in the country and tying up with Croma stores. Lenovo-owned Motorola also introduced its Moto Hub stores recently in the country. Like pop-up stores, these hubs function both as an experience zone and sales outlets.

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  • Published Date: October 12, 2017 4:26 PM IST