It’s tough competition out there in the smartphone industry. Even if you are the torch-bearer of technology the world over, the reality of what the customer demands or expects from you can change the way you approach the market with your products.
Google Inc is the latest to learn this, at least in the Indian market. The tech giant is now contemplating opening retail outlets in major cities to push the sales of its smartphones, particularly the Pixel range phones. Google has largely relied on online promotions to woo the prospective buyers for its phones. Most other players in the space, including Apple, have brick and mortar stores, at least in major metropolises.
According to observers, the company realized that it is not always easy to make the customer fully appreciate all features of a high-end phone till he or she ‘experiences’ them first hand. Perhaps this point was also driven home when it opened pop-up kiosks in malls in Mumbai and Delhi-NCR to promote its latest flagship Pixel 2. These stores were run for a month and they even arranged a dark room to demonstrate the capability of the Pixel 2 to take photographs even in low light conditions. The feedback they received, according to people in the know, has been quite encouraging. High Street Phoenix in Mumbai and Select Citywalk, Promenade, Mall of India in Delhi-NCR, are the malls where these kiosks were put up. More malls are perhaps receiving enquiries for setting up of stores by Google.
If and when Google decides to set up these exclusive stores, it can add its other products also to sell through these outlets. Google Home smart speakers, Chromecast streaming devices, Pixel laptops and Daydream View virtual reality headsets are all products it can stock and sell through these stores, going ahead.
What is not clear, however, is the exact route the company will take to set these stores up. Some of the other companies, like Apple and Samsung have taken the franchisee route, where the companies offer a standardized design and layout for the stores and they can even choose different parties in various cities to open the outlets.
There is also the single brand retailing license to sell their products.
It is pertinent to point out that it is not as if Google will be going the brick and mortar model for the first time. Around 4 years earlier, Google had tied up with the Spice Group owned by B.K. Modi to sell Android devices and the stores called AndroidLand to sell multiple brand products were opened. Though the plan was to open 50 such stores, it was dumped after opening just 2 since the expected sales volume was not achieved.