Xiaomi India opened doors to its first exclusive store in India as the Chinese smartphone manufacturer, which primarily sells its products online, tries to boost sales via the offline route. The flagship store is located in Bengaluru’s Whitefield suburb, and will sell not just smartphones but other Xiaomi products as well such as mobile accessories, air purifiers, Bluetooth speakers, headphones, VR headsets.
The company plans to open around 100 such ‘Mi Home’ stores across India within the next couple of years and will be opening its next few stores in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad.
The maiden ‘Mi Home’ store in Bengaluru is located on the lower ground floor of the posh Phoenix MarketCity Mall and is in close proximity to local mobile retailer Poorvika and Apple’s iStore (operated by Reliance Digital). Sales will begin next week, while customers can pre-book phones online to collect them at the store.
Meanwhile, Apple is also said to be working on starting three company-owned flagship stores in India, in Delhi, Bengaluru, and Mumbai.
According to Xiaomi India’s Vice President Manu Jain, who was present at the opening, Mi Home’s unique feature will be a walk-in experience where customers won’t be disturbed by salespeople and will get to experience all the brand’s products on open display.
The company might be looking to offset falling demand in China by pushing more sales in India where digital penetration is still low. Another reason behind starting an offline store could be slowing Indian e-commerce sales. Also, Xiaomi has always set itself up as a mass-market Apple counterpart, and the idea of having high-end exclusive stories, as well as the format and look-and-feel of the stores seem to be borrowed from Apple as well.
Now that the company has opened its first brick-mortar store in India it will have to focus on meeting shortages in stock, which CEO Lei Jun, who was in India last month, had admitted was a problem for the company. The concerns were addressed by Jain at the launch event when he stated that Mi Home would not be out of stock and if “by chance” that happened, customers would be given a code via which they would be guaranteed a buy online.
Jain also said that company wants to bring the efficiencies of online to offline. “If a phone were to cost Rs 10,000, the brand will sell it to a national distributor for Rs 12,000 and they will sell it to a retail distributor for Rs 14,000… by the time a consumer buys the phone in traditional offline he’s paying 2x of what the phone actually cost,” said Jain. By directly retailing to the customer, Xiaomi wants to keep costs low, Jain added. Mi Home and Mi.com (the retail website of the brand) should not be differentiated and are the two legs of the same business unit, Jain added.
The company claims to be among the top 5 e-commerce retailers in India, and is targeting $2 billion in sales in India. The launch of these stores also coincides with the expansion of Mi Homes in China, where the company is looking to open 200 stores this year to recapture the top spot which it has lost to the likes of Oppo and Vivo. The company is expected to launch a whole host of products in India, including smart, IoT-enabled home devices such as security cameras, wifi-enabled rice cookers, and LED bulbs.