Chinese mobile phone giant Xiaomi is joining major competitors Microsoft, Alibaba and Apple by opening a traditional bricks and mortar store. The retail outlet is located in Beijing's Modern Plaza.
Xiaomi burst onto the smartphone market undercutting competitors while producing sleek designs and has had most of its financial success through internet based flash sales, offering deals so attractive to customers that they sold thousands of phones every second the sale was on. Although the company is privately held and therefore doesn't have to reveal it financials, analysts say the company was valued at $46 billion in 2014.
Due to the company’s online success the move to a traditional store front may seem archaic and strange to many but, as shown by American competitors, there is a marketing and brand-building strategy to it.
Experts say it gives the company exposure, especially where its competitors have a presence, and also sends out the message to potential customers of "what they can do, I can do better."
The Xiaomi store is almost an exact copy of Apple, with the store having a lot of open space, huge wooden tables and clean shelves. Shoppers are served by staff that are supposedly so intelligent, that they are called “geniuses.”
The full range of the company's products are on display and repair and warranty claims services are available. But the company hasn't gone too far from what made it successful: Staff lead customers to a computer terminal to buy the device on-line once they’ve made a decision.
The one thing that differentiates the store from the Apple store in the same Plaza is that one corner has been set up to resemble a middle-class Chinese apartment sitting room. Experts say this is clearly designed to showcase the recently launched Xiaomi smart TV.
Xiaomi has not said if the Beijing store is a testing ground for further flagship stores and has denied South Korean media reports that it was planning to open a store in Seoul.