India's largest smartphone vendor Xiaomi today said that it would set up 5,000 Mi Stores across rural India by the end of 2019, a move that is expected to generate over 15,000 jobs. Xiaomi, which entered India in 2014 and sold smartphones exclusively online, ventured into offline retail in 2017. It operates its own chain of Mi Homes, apart from Mi Preferred Partners through a franchise model.
"It's been over a year since we started offering our products through offline retail and we have seen strong growth there ... About 4-5 months ago, we started piloting what we called Offline 2.0 - where we are going to tier IV, V and beyond, rural India with our offline retail offering," Xiaomi Vice-President and India Managing Director Manu Jain told reporters of PTI.
He added that under the 'Mi Store' model, the company has already set up 500 stores and will take the number to 5,000 by the end of 2019. "Located across 14 states, these 500 Mi Stores were inaugurated at the same time on October 29 ... which helped us achieve a Guinness World Records feat for opening the highest number of retail stores in the world at the exact same time," he said.
While Mi Homes -- that showcases Xiaomi's entire product range across smartphones, televisions and ecosystem products -- are spread across larger spaces in bigger cities, Mi Stores have an average size of 300 sq ft and will be located in rural India.
"These stores can be found in some of the most remote corners of the country... We think this can generate massive employment opportunities with over 15,000 jobs in these regions, thereby boosting immense economic output," he said.
Jain explained that offline retail is still a huge segment in our country with nearly 40% of the offline market focused in rural regions. Through its various efforts, the company expects offline retail to account for half of its smartphone sales by next year. Xiaomi expects to ramp up the number of Mi Homes to 100 (from current 50) and take its Mi Preferred Partners programme to 100 cities (from over 50 now).