With relaxed restrictions amid lockdown 3.0 from May 4, technology companies are looking at reaching out to potential customers without putting them at risk. Chinese technology company Xiaomi is introducing Mi Commerce, a new offline-to-online model. Amid rising cases of coronavirus in the country, consumers are likely to be sceptical to step out to shop. Mi Commerce will help retail partners connect with potential customers, and even facilitate offline purchases.
"The 'Mi Commerce' is a web application, which enables a hyper-local experience. Essentially it's a very simple URL, which is exclusive stores - be it Mi Home, Mi Store, Mi Studio that can sell and promote pretty much on any media, or they can take and popularize this URL on their WhatsApp groups on Facebook, on Twitter, on Google ads, and more," explained Muralikrishnan B, Chief Operating Officer, Xiaomi India during a virtual press briefing.
As the consumer navigates to the URL, the location is automatically detected to be connected to the nearest Xiaomi store available. Once this happens, the existing Xiaomi inventory in that store is presented as a simple e-commerce experience on the browser of the consumer. Consumers can navigate as one can search by category, find a specific product of the liking and express interest to purchase it. The specific interest will be communicated to the store owner through the existing proprietary store systems, post which the store owner can get in touch with the consumer, and arrange for delivery at a mutually convenient time. It eliminates the need for the user to step out of the house or even search for the nearest store. Even for payments, Xiaomi is promoting digital, contactless payments that might be collected using a UPI QR Code.
The deliveries under Mi Commerce will be carried out by following local and state regulations. It will be a contactless delivery and delivery boys will be sanitised, will get masks and we will ensure that the entire process is completely safe.
"We are super excited about the solution. We had introduced this solution to all of our Mi store partners earlier last week, and they're extremely excited with the potential that this holds, especially in the current situation when consumers are going to be extremely reluctant to come to visit our stores. Mi Commerce has the potential to maybe completely redefined the way shopping for electronics or pretty much any other category can happen. We're extremely proud to introduce this at such a large scale. This solution is getting piloted in Kerala, and this week shall be rolled out across all green and orange zones in India," adds Muralikrishnan B.
On the inventory front, the company confirmed that they keep a couple of weeks inventory in the channel. Xiaomi is hopeful that the manufacturing will resume soon. The Foxconn facility in Andhra Pradesh, where Xiaomi smartphones are assembled, has got its approval and should open soon. Xiaomi is also looking at getting approvals for other factories and once that comes, production should start over the course of the next few days.
The current nationwide lockdown has impacted the sales of smartphones and consumer durables. However, Manu Kumar Jain, Vice President, Xiaomi and Managing Director, Xiaomi India, is hopeful that the smartphone industry in India will bounce back by the second half of the year. "Second quarter of this year might be a difficult time for us, but people are still expecting similar levels what was forecast earlier for Q3, Q4 and Diwali."
To fight the ongoing pandemic, Xiaomi India has pledged Rs 15 crore to relief funds. While many companies have been reporting about handing over pink slips to their employees, there won't be any lay-offs at Xiaomi India. The company is retaining all its 50,000-plus employees, even at the bottom of the pyramid which includes promoters.