Xiaomi is definitely one of China’s big stars when it comes to online retail and smartphones. This is soon to change, in a positive way.
You see, the ‘Chinese Apple’ is coming to Europe.
Xiaomi is looking to make its mark and is kicking things off with a huge launch event in the Madrid.
This is no small move for the self-described startup as it moves to becoming a globally recognised brand.
However, for consumers, this could transform the Chinese gadget-maker from a brand you can only buy from Amazon, GearBest, etc into a more accessable retailer selling real products on home soil.
In an interview with Verge, Wang Xiang, the senior VP responsible for Xiaomi’s international business, sales, marketing, and legal and IP strategy, pointed out the company’s reasoning to start their European campaign in the Spanish capital:
We have many, many customers in Spain, the UK, Germany, and Italy. We don’t even know where they buy the product.”
As I said earlier, Amazon, GearBest and AliExpress are adept at getting goods from the internal Chinese market overseas.
Xiaomi has thus far relied on digital marketing and word of mouth. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re out of touch. It is aware that they have a “very friendly and also very active” fan base in Spain. So, it makes sense to make the country its first European market.
Its event today paid tribute to two of Xiaomi’s most active fans in Spain, who’ve been following and supporting the company for seven years.
I can see why Xiaomi’s devices are super-attractive though.
You cannot dismiss the appeal of inexpensive smartphones that not only cover the basic, entry-level functions, but also boast some high-end skills.
Mi Mix 2 and more
So, Xiamoi has naturally chosen their excellent bezel-phobic phone to lead the charge.
Pricing the Mi Mix 2 €499 (£440) it certainly makes the already attractive device even more so. Currently, GearBest has the 64GB version at £411!
They are also bringing the Android One Mi A1, which will be retailing at €229.
Beside those two major smartphones, Xiaomi’s retail presence will be fleshed out with four of its so-called ecosystem products.
These are the Mi Band 2, priced at €24.99, the Mi Electric Scooter, costing €349.99, the Mi Box Android set-top box, which is €74.99, and the Mi Action Camera 4K for €134.99.
Those will be joined on retail shelves by Xiaomi’s full portfolio of accessories and peripherals such as power banks and headphones.
Why bother with physical stores now?
Having previously focused exclusively on online retail — which helped it keep operational costs low — Xiaomi has now adopted a hybrid “new retail” approach.
As you have probably already worked out, this means that the company is embracing the idea of physical stores as well.
Wang notes that online smartphone purchases represent only 20 % of the Chinese phone market. That proportion had previously peaked above 30% but, in more rural communities, shopping is done offline. It is the latter market that is tilting the numbers back in favour of brick-and-mortar stores.
To address that demand, Xiaomi now has 220 stores in malls across “tier 1” Chinese cities. It has plans to take that total past 1,000 within the next three years.
There are another 130 official Xiaomi stores elsewhere around the world: nearly 20 in Russia, Indonesia has two (with plans for 10 in total), and so do Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. Dubai and Egypt are also on a list of Xiaomi markets that numbers 60 in total.
Where to buy
In Spain, Xiaomi’s online presence will be substantial. Sales open tomorrow, November 8th.
People will be able to buy the company’s devices at mi.com/es, Amazon.es and through an official Mi store on AliExpress.com.
Media Markt, Phone House, and Carrefour will also be featuring Mi devices on their online outlets and through their physical retail channels.
Furthermore, Xiaomi plans to open two authorised Mi stores in Madrid on November 11th.
Also, every other retail partner will have Mi devices in stores on November 22nd.
Yup, they are taking this very seriously indeed.
I wish the company well and look forward to UK stores in the not too distant future.