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Xiaomi looking beyond smartphones

| | Updated on: Aug 08, 2016
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Chinese handset-maker plans to come up with air-purifiers and upgraded wearables

“There were phones which were sold before the Redmi 1s (Xiaomi’s first phone in the country); and phones which are sold after Redmi 1s,” says Manu Kr Jain, India Head, Xiaomi.

As he points out in an interview to BusinessLine , China’s Xiaomi Corp can claim a fair share of credit for changing how smartphones are sold in India, especially online.

Now two-year-old in India, Xiaomi is gearing up to become an “internet company”, with a portfolio beyond smart-phones.

Air purifiers (after wearables) – especially remotely controlled through smartphones – and drones – once there is a change in law regarding their sales – being two such categories.

The Beijing headquartered company’s product portfolio involves everything from wearables to monitor your sleep to Wi-Fi routers and air purifiers that can be part of a smart home, to drones and water purifiers and so on.

“I do not know the exact date. But after wearables (Mi Band), launching air purifiers in the country is a possibility,” Jain adds. He was here to launch the Redmi 3S and Redmi 3S Prime ( two sub-₹10K smartphones) .

Other offerings, including the Mi Band 2 (an upgrade to the highly popular Mi Band), too will be launched “at an appropriate time”, he maintains.

Xiaomi still sales at least one million handsets every quarter, primarily online.

Increasing offline foothold

But offline sales cannot be ignored. Xiaomi may be the No. 2 smartphone brand in India in terms of online sales. But it slides down to No. 6 or No. 7 in terms of handset sales. The reason: limited offline presence.

In China, its home market, nearly 30 per cent sales come offline i.e. it is through brick-and-mortar formats. In India, this number is just 10 per cent and restricted primarily to Tier-I and Tier-II cities.

“Today, about 90 per cent of our sales in India are through e-commerce. We are looking at expanding offline presence,” he says. But, there is no time-line within which Xiaomi can have China-like offline sales percentage from India.

Xiaomi has already set in motion the plan to expand offline. From 5,000 stores at present, the plan is to double the count to 10,000 within the next 6-8 months (or early 2017).

“By early 2017, we should cover Tier-2 and some Tier-3 towns,” Jain points out.

Apart from Redington, it has also entered into tie-ups with Just Buy Live and InnoConn to branch out, primarily in North, West and in smaller cities.

The new partners will implement the handset-maker’s India-specific direct-to-retail (DTR) distribution strategy where they will buy from Xiaomi and supply directly to retail stores who may place orders as per demand.

Make in India

Interestingly, Xiaomi is also looking to ramp up its India production presence.

It is already in talks with Foxconn to explore the possibility of setting up one or two new units in India. It’s existing unit is in Andhra Pradesh.

Nearly 75 per cent of the company’s handsets sold here are made in India. “In the coming days, this percentage will only move up,” Jain adds.

The just-launched Redmi 3S – priced at ₹6,999 – is another “Made in India” offering; after other models such as Redmi 2 Prime, Redmi 2 and Redmi Note Prime.

Published on January 17, 2018

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