Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Inc. said it could sell more models in Indian stores while pursuing its primarily online-only strategy if it succeeds in selling enough Redmi Note 4G handsets through shops of carrier Bharti Airtel Ltd.
Xiaomi entered India with online retailer Flipkart.com in July, selling phones through flash sales whereby availability is limited to short time frames. The online strategy cuts down on marketing and distribution costs, allowing Xiaomi to sell feature-rich phones at low prices.
But last week, Bharti Airtel said it would sell Redmi Note 4G handsets in six cities through 133 stores of India’s biggest fourth-generation (4G) mobile network provider. In-store handset prices in India are comparable to online models because neither are sold with network chips or subsidized through pricing plans.
“If this works out fine, we’ll expand the partnership to other cities and other devices,” Manu Jain, head of Xiaomi in India, said Wednesday, adding that it was too early to form any concrete plans yet.
Making models available in stores — as Xiaomi does in China — could help the fast-growing startup reach more users in the world’s third-largest smartphone market as Bharti promotes the handsets to attract subscribers to its 4G service.
Due to online sales, Xiaomi’s Indian customers span 1,000 cities just six months after entering the market, Jain said.
But “offline” channels are important for prospective customers to see and feel the phones on offer. In China, about 30 percent of Xiaomi’s sales come from “offline” channels and the firm is aiming for a similar split in India, Jain said.