Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Inc. is expected to launch its own e-commerce website in India by the first half of 2015 to expand market share in one of its fastest growing markets, a top executive said on Monday.
It is already in talks with multiple partners for tie-ups and is expected to launch its own website once it gets approvals and puts operations in place. Xiaomi registered its local unit, Indian Xiaomi Technology India Pvt. Ltd in October 2014 in Bengaluru, and is rapidly ramping up its team in the country.
“We are working step by step in building our own e-commerce platform in india. Setting up own e-commerce platform is a complex task…it requires custom clearance, warehousing, payment integration, last-mile connectivity. We are talking to a number of partners… we don’t have specific launch date yet but it will happen sometime in first half of the next year,” said Hugo Barra.
“India is already our second largest market after China and without doubt the fastest growing market, too,” Barra added. Xiaomi counts South-East Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines) as its other important markets.
Xiaomi (pronounced as Shiao-Me), which sells direct to customers via online shops and with minimal marketing spending in order to keep its prices competitive, chose to enter India in partnership with India’s largest e-commerce company, Flipkart.com, due to the logistics and payments challenges in the country.
India and the Philippines are the two markets where the company has taken a different approach. “Both these markets have significant challenges, primarily logistics and payments,” said Barra.
The company, known as Apple of China, has already hired a core team of 10 people in India and about 40 call centre employees.
Xiaomi’s own website will continue to work in parallel with Flipkart.com. Given that India does not allow foreign entities to sell online on their own, the company is in the middle of finalizing ways to set up its own e-commerce portal.
“We are talking to different tax advisory firms, lawyers and trying to figure out what is the most efficient way of doing things both from a regulatory perspective and day-to-day operations perspective,” said Manu Jain, India operations head at Xiaomi.
The firm had sold over half-a-million devices by October since its launch in July. It has so far imported close to 800,000 units of Redmi 1S, a low-budget smartphone and 120,000 units of its flagship Mi3 phone. It makes available close to 65,000–100,000 units of phones in India a month, the company said.
Xiaomi also plans to eventually start manufacturing in India. “We want to do that at some point…we have to find partners to be able to manage a manufacturing operation in india and that is going to take time. We have started conversations with multiple partners but we don’t have a line of sight to the launch,” Barra added.
Source : Livemint