Xiaomi became a global smartphone player by focusing on large emerging markets like India and Indonesia. Now it’s pushing into Western Europe with stores in Spain -- and we visited their newest location in Barcelona.
At first glance, it’s hard to avoid comparisons to the Apple Store, because the Mi Store looks very similar. Phones are neatly arranged on wooden tables, all accessories are in white boxes, and large, bright product banners adorn the walls.
The store isn’t particularly big -- in fact, it’s much smaller than the Zara clothing shop right next to it. But what it lacks in size, it makes up with product diversity and low prices. The budget Redmi 5 smartphone is being sold for 129 euros (US$157), slightly more than its 799 yuan (US$126) price tag in China.
But Xiaomi always takes pains to remind everyone that they make more than just smartphones. The store also sells a wide variety of gadgets, including fitness wearables, headphones, VR headsets, scooters, toy robots and even bath towels.
They also had TV sets on display as well as Mi Box set-top boxes. But while Xiaomi is selling the Mi Box, they say the TVs aren’t available for sale until they find a local content partner.
For Xiaomi, these physical stores showcase its “ecosystem” strategy: By providing a large range of products, the company hopes to keep people visiting its stores over and over again. It also actively cultivates a loyal fan base at home and abroad, and Xiaomi says there’s already a following in Spain for its products.
Right now, the company sells products in more than 70 countries, and it says there are plans to open more outlets in Western Europe this year, but didn’t specify where. In all, Xiaomi wants to open 2,000 stores in the next three years -- that’s almost two a day!
Xiaomi is also hoping the stores mark a comeback, as it tries to regain the number one spot in China.