Source: ETRetail.com, Feb 12, 2019
Online sales of smartphones are expected to fall sharply in the January-March quarter after restrictions on discounts, among other curbs, kicked in on February 1, leading handset companies to increase their focus on forming more tie-ups with brick-and-mortar stores.
The share of online smartphone sales may drop to 26-27% in the current quarter as norms prescribed in the rules on foreign direct investment in ecommerce take effect, according to research firms IDC and Counterpoint Technology Market Research.
“There is already an impact…Typically, e-commerce contribution goes as high as 38-40% (of overall sales which includes offline) during the festive season, but in Q1-Q2, it hovers around 30-31%. This time, it might fall by up to 4% because of the policy change,” said Tarun Pathak, associate director at Counterpoint. Pathak said the FDI rules will impact model exclusivity for brands on online channels. “…a lot of companies have agreements in place. This can also delay time-to-market,” he said.
The hit won’t only be on account of exclusive sales, but also due to offers and discounts, which are barred, said Faisal Kawoosa, founder and chief analyst at TechArc. “We estimate that around 35% of online sales are triggered due to offers/promotions and discounts,” he said. The most hurt would be vendors of Honor, Asus and Realme, which are online-only or online-heavy brands, said Prabhu Ram, head, industry intelligence group at market research firm CyberMedia Research. These companies have now started forming partnerships with stores such as Reliance Digital and Croma.
Realme started its offline journey with 10 cities across the country in January and will add 50 cities every quarter. It intends to establish 20,000 outlets throughout the country, the company said in a statement. According to Navkendar Singh, associate research director with client devices at IDC, handset makers will face challenges in offline channels over the next six months because it’s difficult to spread wide and deep very quickly. “To manage operations, brands need a different mindset, different teams because that’s a kind of different animal,” Singh said.
However, even after the expected decline in Q1, etailers will remain sales drivers in 2019, said Upasana Joshi, associate research manager, client devices, IDC India. She said Flipkart and Amazon are finding ways to adhere to the policy. Singh said large format retailers such as Reliance Digital and Croma are in a better position now as they can command better margins from handset companies seeking to form new partnerships.