China’s Huawei bets big on offline retail; plans 1000 experience stores by 2020

NEW DELHI: Chinese handset maker Huawei is making its entry into the offline retail channel as a standalone brand by setting up 100 exclusive experience zones through its retail partners for its flagship devices in the country, and plans to take the count to 1000 by 2020.

“We are initiating the offline expansion with our new flagship device… we are aggressive globally with our offline strategy and we are replicating the same in India,” Wally Yang, senior marketing director at Huawei Consumer Business Group,” told ET.

These new stores with showcase Huawei’s smartphone along with smart devices like smartwatch, laptops and smart speakers.

Huawei’s subbrand Honor already sells devices in the offline channel under its dual-channel strategy.

The latest retail expansion is being executed under its $100 million investment plan for the Indian market. Besides, the investment is already going towards R&D and marketing.

The company will also start manufacturing of Huawei-branded devices from next year. Honor is already making devices though Flex and Foxconn in India.

The handset maker on Tuesday launched its flagship Mate 20 Pro device in the country for Rs 69,990, further heating up the competition in India’s premium smartphone market, which is currently led by OnePlus. Samsung and Apple are two big players in the premium segment.

Yang said that Huawei said a bigger ambition for the Indian market through its mid-to-high smartphone product range. “Our positioning is different, and so is the target audience. We are targeting consumers that are looking for high-end tech,” he added.

The executive said that Huawei is seeing bigger growth in the premium segment globally, and now wants India market to give similar results.

Huawei will soon be bringing its entire consumer product ecosystem to India. It will launch its smart speaker, AI Cube, followed by smartwatch and laptop, Yang said.

Huawei and Honor had a combined market share of 3% in the July-September quarter, similar to the previous quarter, as per Counterpoint Research. The company is aiming to increase its market share every year by 5-10%, starting January 2019.

The executive said that “India is important for the company’s global product strategy” as its local research and development (R&D) center plays critical role in development for global smartphone.

Huawei now has a dedicated team working on Artificial Intelligence in India, and recently extended R&D software testing in its Bangalore R&D center.

“The Bangalore R&D center does a lot of local innovation besides doing customisation for products that are launches in India… it also collaborates with the China team for global products,” Yang said, adding that Huawei has 3000 employees involved in R&D in Bangalore.

The development was reported by

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