Update: Listen to the audio post of this blog post below.
So it is finally here – Xiaomi Redmi 1S. Before I share my buying experience, here are the un-boxing photos – proof that I possess Redmi 1S 🙂
Redmi 1S, a mid-range phone (if I can call it that) has been making waves through out India for its specs and cost. This smartphone first went on sale on Flipkart – popular e-commerce portal in India on 2nd Sep 2014. 40,000 units got sold in mere seconds through the new concept which Xiaomi introduce in India, called the Flash sale. Xiaomi phones are sold only through Flipkart at specified date and time (every Tuesday at 2 p.m.) and it has been very successful. So far, it has claimed to have sold close to 1 one lakh Mi3 phones and 80,000 Redmi 1S till date.
I was simply amazed by Xiaomi’s marketing practice. Some call it unethical. But I think every company has the right to market their product they feel it is right – as long as it does not fool people, and sells within the confines of the law. In fact, Xiaomi’s brilliant marketing strategy has paid off. They have been able to keep supply low and demand high. More importantly, they also ensured that they keep the conversation flowing by introducing new products at regular intervals.
The process to get this smartphone is simple. You first register to buy the smartphone at Flipkart website, and then wait for for the launch day. Then, on launch day, you login to Flipkart and anxiously wait for the countdown to hit zero. Once it does, you see a bright orange box “Buy Now” and you click it. If you are extremely lucky and quick on your clicks, you can snap one of these. Flipkart and Xiaomi are claiming that they have sold out their smartphones at a record pace of less than a second.
Everyone I know who wanted this phone, waited anxiously for the sale to happen. Those who were click-happy, were able to snatch Redmi 1S during the day of the sale. Those who didn’t took their frustration through Social Media at Flipkart and Xiaomi. Interestingly I still see those who haven’t got this phone, vent their frustration in FB/Twitter and then go and register the very next day for the next week sale. Or worse they go and buy Redmi 1s from those who have bought these phones at even higher rate.
A month back, Xiaomi had sold Mi3, their flagship phone through the same process. Many tried, some succeeded and others failed. One of my friend, Giri who is a well known blogger and photographer, has recently reported that someone has bought Mi3 for an unbelievable price of Rs. 2,26,000.
Xiaomi and Flipkart has mastered the art of flash sale. They announce clearly a week before how many units are available. Then they go to Facebook and announce “Priority Passes” to buy the smartphone. These Priority Passes are a sure way of getting the device on the day of sale. I actually got this but was still unable to get Redmi 1S on the first day of sale. Till date, I am not sure if I got it the second time because of it either. Then they also pick winners through FB contests, who are then assured that they get the devices without having to wait and click to buy on the day of the sale. The devices get automatically added to their Flipkart account. So all they need to do is pay and get it delivered.
Xiaomi has announced another round of sale of Redmi 1s on Sept 16th. If you are interested, register now.
The Long Run – Will it work?
I feel while this might work for sometime, but in the long run it will be difficult to sustain. According to Xiaomi’s website, they have three products – Mi3, Redmi 1s, and Redmi Note. They have already released the first two products. Redmi Note is yet to hit the Indian market and most likely it would be sold through Flipkart. But once these are out, upgrade versions will be sold. But by then, my guess is, the Xiaomi effect would have slowed down.
Maybe, Xiaomi’s whole game plan is to keep the conversation to the max, even if the sales are low. But don’t forget their margin is pretty high. They do zero advertising. So any profit they make (minus Flipkart’s commission), goes right into their pocket. This is a model which I feel other smartphone manufacturers might start copying (read Micromax, Gionee, etc).
How I got Redmi 1S?
Coming back to my story, I tried Mi3 once on the last day sale and failed. I then came to know that Redmi 1S is going on sale. Mi3 is an excellent value for money as it has higher specs and it costs only Rs. 13,999. The specs are equal to let’s say Nexus 5 smartphones at almost half the cost. Redmi 1S is a competitor for Moto G and Moto E. The specs are good, but again at almost half the cost.
Since I couldn’t get Mi3, I tried for Redmi 1S – reluctantly. I know my luck – it sucks. But I tried anyways. Since I won the Priority Pass, I felt I might have a chance. But it didn’t work out. I couldn’t get the device at first go. I contacted Xiaomi team through Facebook and checked with them. They claimed to have faced some technical difficulty from Flipkart end and hence I couldn’t get one. They encouraged me to register again. So I did. But the next time, before I tried, I went and read some experiences of those who have actually bought the device. It seems Firefox browser gives you a better chance than Chrome browser. So I tried through Firefox browser and clicked on Buy Now button when the sale happened. Nothing happened. At first I thought didn’t get it. My friends asked me to contact Xiaomi again and find out what happened. But I wasn’t too keen. So I dropped it and thought I will get Moto G or Moto X (next generation).
But later in the day, when I was browsing through Flipkart, I found that the device had been added to my cart. I was only happy to buy the device. After buying the device, I was informed that it will take two weeks to get the device. But to Flipkart’s credit, they delivered it to me in 2 days. I also got the Micro-sim card adapter and I am yet to get the screen guard for my Redmi 1s. But I am not worried, as I know Flipkart will deliver it perfectly.
A few Pointers… Flipkart/Xiaomi – Take notes:
Flipkart, in my opinion does decently job of handling the flash sale. But they can do more to help buyers lay hand on this device. A few pointers:
- Increase the number of units sold
- Run Social Media contest and ensure winners do get the device as promised
- Make Flipkart online e-commerce portal more stable during purchase
This phone has been the talk of the town for almost two months and it doesn’t seem to be subsiding anytime soon. With the talk of Mi4, the next generation of Mi3, being available is around the corner, online shopping through Flipkart is going to get more interesting.
I am planning to do a detailed video later today or tomorrow and post it next week. Share your experience of your purchase of Redmi 1S/Mi3 below in the comment section. Also, let me know your thoughts (like/hate) on Xiaomi’s marketing strategy.