Chinese technology company, Xiaomi, is focusing on offline stores to boost sales after suffering setbacks at the hands of local competitors over the past two years.
The firm was the top seller in China in 2014 and 2015 but lost ground to Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Apple last year.
This year, the company has moved back into the top five ranking worldwide with a year-on-year growth of 58.9 per cent in the second quarter, according to research firm International Data Corporation’s (IDC) estimates.
“2017 has been a good year for us. We have become number two in India and number four in China. We initially started with an online model but one of the key principles of Xiaomi is selling at near cost. We realised that we could open our own stores and sell the products at an online price, without losing money,” Donovan Sung, director of product management and marketing at Xiaomi Global, told Gulf News on Thursday after opening its first authorised Mi store in the Middle East in partnership with its regional distributor, Task. (Mi is the abbreviation and the logo of Xiaomi Inc.)
The company also unveiled two new smartphones — Mi 6 and Mi Max 2 on Thursday.
The 1,500 square feet Mi store at BurJuman Centre in Dubai is with an initial investment of more than Dh2 million. “We open stores where there is high traffic. If we were selling only mobile phones, then customers would come every two years. Once you have more than 300 products displayed, we find that more customers come often to find out what new products we have,” Sung said.
Ravi Matthew, deputy CEO and General Manager of Task, said that step by step, Xiaomi aims to bring all its ecosystem to this region. While the company is best known for phones, it has invested in 77 start-ups and now offers air purifiers, drones, TVs, speakers, TV set-top boxes, electric cycles, robots and robot vacuum cleaners.
“We are looking for space in other malls in the UAE. We will be opening three more outlets in Dubai by end of this year. We are also planning to have stores in other emirates also,” he said.
He added that offline sales will be quite significant for the company. In India and China, only 30 per cent of the mobile phone sales come from online while the other 70 per cent come from offline. The percentage of online smartphone sales is much lower than that in the Gulf. So, the offline market is “very important for us”.
The Chinese company is planning to open three new offline stores in Egypt in the next two months.
Sung said that it has 140 offline Mi retail stores in China and hopes to have 1,000 shops in China and 1,000 abroad over the next three years.
“Our focus is still on smartphones but IoT [internet of Things] is important because we want to offer a full range of services to our fans. The smartphone will be the centre and everything can be managed through the phone,” Sung said.