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Manu Kumar Jain
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"SMART DESH KA SMARTPHONE"

As coronavirus puts India on lockdown, Xiaomi’s going door-to-door

Ananya Bhattacharya
By Ananya Bhattacharya

Tech reporter

Xiaomi is finding ways to stay open for business in India amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Beijing-based company has launched a “Delivery on Call” service, which allows shoppers to call up their closest Mi Home store and order a smartphone for home delivery, vice-president and India managing director Manu Jain wrote in an open letter today (March 23).

The company will also continue its home servicing visits, but with heightened hygiene practices—engineers will use masks, shoe covers, and sterile gloves.

“All Mi Home staff also wears masks at all times and keeps their hands sanitised for walk-in customers,” Jain wrote, suggesting the stores aren’t shying away from walk-ins either, despite 22 states in the country facing lockdowns.

Across over 2,000 of its authorised service centres, Xiaomi is assigning appointments only via its online token system, “ensuring no more than four customers in service centres at any point and all devices are sanitised.”

Xiaomi’s efforts come just a week before it is set to launch its new smartphone the Mi 10. This handset is crucial because it comes with a higher price tag than its other affordable devices, placing the Chinese manufacturer in the premium arena alongside Shenzhen-based OnePlus and Apple’s iPhones.

Of course, it’s not business as usual.

Exercising caution, the company cancelled all its on-ground launch events scheduled in March to reduce exposure risk in the wake of Covid-19. Also, it curtailed business travel and moved office employees to remote work. Where governments have mandated lockdowns, the company’s corporate offices, warehouses, service centres, stores, and manufacturing plants will abide by them.

What perhaps works in its favour is that Xiaomi’s not alone in facing the wrath of the pandemic. The entire smartphone industry is in flux. Other Chinese rivals like Oppo and Vivo, as well as formidable competitor Samsung from South Korea, have all halted production at their India facilities.

This isn’t going to be a stellar quarter by any means, for any brand. The overall volume of online sales in January and February was 30% lower than than the numbers reported in November and December of 2019, data from phone rankings site Phonecurry’s real-time market intelligence tool Lumos show. This, without the full effect of the hit that Chinese supply chains took in those months.

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