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“E-Commerce allows us to launch products across the country on Day 1” – Lenovo’s Sudhin Mathur

E-commerce channel allows Lenovo India to launch its products across the country on Day 1, Sudhin Mathur, Director (Smartphones), Lenovo India told Medianama at the launch of its latest mid-range Android smartphone Lenovo Vibe X2. The phone is a Flipkart exclusive and is priced at Rs 19,999.

Sudhin Mathur

Mathur said that if they had gone offline, maybe consumers in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore would’ve been able to purchase the device but as they go towards tier-2, tier-3 and tier-4 towns, it takes time for a product to physically reach out to a retail outlet.

He added that online platforms also allow companies to reach out to a very targeted audience which is already net savvy and understand what they want to buy.

Besides this, e-commerce platforms allow users to actually compare products based on what’s being offered at what prices due to their neutral nature and take an instant decision. “In an retail outlet, I think you can get swayed by the retailer’s preferences”. However, online platforms does come with a disadvantage of lack of touch & feel.

On Lenovo’s consumer advisory: Interestingly, it’s worth noting that Lenovo had issued a consumer advisory against e-commerce sites like Snapdeal and Amazon India earlier this year.

Mathur said that the “advisory was never to say don’t buy, but to alert consumers to check the authenticity of the product they are buying from these sites”. He also added that this “doesn’t mean people who are genuinely purchasing from a genuine purchaser, the warranty will not be honoured. We have tracking of IMEI numbers and other mechanisms by which we can track products.”

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Elaborating on this, he said that there are two models in online platforms – one is people like Flipkart and WS-Retail where they know and engage regularly and another is regular sellers on marketplaces. “For instance, you and me can go and start selling from there”. It is just an awareness process to alert consumer since “we don’t know who the seller is. It could be somebody selling a second hand products or a refurbished product.” (Also read“We don’t have different warranty policies for online & offline purchases” – Asus India)

On exclusivity: As of now, Lenovo hasn’t set any specific exclusivity window in terms of duration or quantity for Vibe X2. But that could change for Lenovo’s future products. Mathur mentions that they might look for exclusivity over a period of time or differentiation in terms of price or color. For instance, one channel could have one color and the other channel could have another color.

Reaction of offline retailers reactions to exclusivity deals: Mathur says they do not differentiate between both the channels as a brand, since they have products that sell offline & online, however he believes that people “are coming to live with reality that it is the consumer who is making the decision and nothing else”.

Mathur was however evasive when we asked whether there will be a differentiated product portfolio between online and offline channels in the future, saying only that the company will “aim to reach out to consumers much faster while aiming to keep a healthy product mix between both the channels”.

On pricing strategy: Mathur says the pricing isn’t decided by an online vs offline scenario but on the basis of “what would bring us great results when we launch the phone. If we wanted to launch this phone at Rs 19,999 offline, we could’ve done it as well.”

Disclosure: The writer was at the Lenovo Vibe X2 launch event at the invitation of Lenovo India, with costs of attending covered.

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