Can offline expansion bring growth for smartphones in India?

Are all smartphones in India sold online? Not really. Smartphone sales haven’t crossed 40 per cent through online channels. There are still limitations to online channels in India.
  • ROPO (Research Online Purchase Offline) is an established trend of how smartphones are purchased across the globe, including in India.
  • In 2017, one of the key focus areas for all emerging smartphone brands has been to expand offline – the latest example being Xiaomiwhich has a great online presence but is now trying to make inroads into the offline segment.
  • The biggest challenge in the offline space would be to mirror the exact online availability of models. 
  • There are going to be situations, especially when a brand has several variants in specifications and colours, where the particular model and variant for which a buyer visits the store may not be available.
  • Streamlining the lag between availability of a new launch throughout the length and breadth of the country via offline is also going to be challenging to match the online expectations.
A single channel won’t work for any brand. It has to be an Omni channel approach that is going to bring sales. However, as ROPO is triggering expansion into offline, the online players like Flipkart and Amazon can be worried to a certain extent, because the brand that was so far enticing people to purchase online with discounts and other offers would not tell buyers to visit stores.


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