Smartphones are among the highest-selling products on Indian e-commerce portals, and Flipkart is winning the race there.
In 2017, over half the smartphones sold online were via the homegrown e-commerce site, according to Hong Kong-based market intelligence firm Counterpoint Research. Amazon followed with 33% and Mi.com, China-based Xiaomi website, was a distant third with just 10%.
However, though Flipkart secured the overall lead, Amazon won in the premium segment.
The Jeff Bezos-led firm contributed 63% of the shipments in the high-end handsets segment in 2017, courtesy sales of OnePlus and Apple devices. These brands featured in the top-five revenue grossers among smartphones sold online. Flipkart accounted for just under a third in this category.
Among the phone brands sold online, Xiaomi had the biggest market share at 44% in 2017—its shipment volumes grew 219% from the previous year. The Rs9,999 ($155) Redmi Note 4, Rs6,999 Redmi 4, and the Rs5,999 4A were the most popular devices from its stable.
Overall, online phone sales rose 23% in India last year. Counterpoint, though, expects the contribution of online channels—currently a third of total smartphone sales—to flatline in 2018 as brands are pivoting to a hybrid offline-online model.
“The high-spec but low-cost, value for money smartphone models exclusively available only on online platforms were instrumental in successfully creating unprecedented demand throughout the year,” Karn Chauhan, research analyst at Counterpoint, said in the press release. Online sale events like Flipkart’s Big Billion and Amazon’s Great Indian Sale also pushed sales.
However, brands are expanding their offline footprint now.
For instance, Xiaomi, which launched in the country over three years ago by selling online only, is already shifting focus offline. Last year, it partnered with retail chains like Croma, Univercell, Vijay Sales, and others, and began opening stores named Mi Home.
All e-commerce players should consider “increasing (the) number of serviceable ZIP codes (pin codes), hybrid offline stores, and customer service kiosks to attract and gain more users to the platform,” Counterpoint’s associate director Tarun Pathak said.