The company, which has been in the news for signing on e-commerce portal Flipkart as its official distributor, recently shook up the entry level smartphone market with the launch of Moto E at R6,999. In a conversation with FE BrandWagons Anushree Bhattacharyya, Magnus Ahlqvist, corporate vice-president (Europe, Africa and Asia), Motorola Mobility, talks about the smartphone makers decision to join hands with Flipkart and its plans for the Indian market. Edited excerpts:
Motorola was out of action for about two years. How did you use this time for a comeback
We launched Moto G in February this year. India is a huge market and in order to reach out to each and every customer, one has to have a big distribution network across the country. Ideally, a brand needs to be present in each and every retail store in the market. Therefore, we decided to focus on a couple of key points, the first being called the go-to-market approach. Under this strategy, we joined hands with Flipkart. The association not only allowed us to launch a great product, it also allowed us to provide a great service to consumers in India. Flipkart has been able to penetrate deep into the Indian market and is continuously expanding its reach. For example, with the launch of Moto E, the e-commerce platform will be expanding its reach to 200 more cities. So our products will be available in about 400 cities.
We also spent a lot of time reaching out to consumers along with Flipkart before we officially launched Moto G in February. We collected their feedback on the kind of smartphones they wanted handset makers to introduce in the market. We worked hard on the software part of the phone. We got the latest Android software for the phone, and ensured that consumers could easily update the software from time to time. We take all the reviews on Flipkart very seriously and the reviews on the e-commerce platform tell me that consumers have realised that Motorola is back in the country.
How important is the Indian market for Motorola
India is very important I had said this when we had launched our first phone almost three months ago. The fact that we launched Moto E across the world from India indicates the important role it plays in our business plan. Motorola is growing steadily in the Indian market and this I can say from the kind of consumer feedback we have received. The idea is to keep re-investing in the country by introducing interesting propositions for the people in India.
What is the nature of your partnership with Flipkart Are you also looking to tie up with other players such as Amazon and Snapdeal
With the launch of each new phone from Motorola, our relation with Flipkart is also strengthening. We plan to continue with this tie-up and are not looking at joining hands with any other e-commerce platform. The partnership with Flipkart raised many eyebrows initially, but I think that is a thing of the past now, with the partnership being a successful one. While initially we did face a few problems such as people not being able to touch and feel the phone, but thanks to the great partnership with Flipkart we were able to overcome all the issues. The positive reviews on the site by consumers have played a key role in winning the trust of many more people. We plan to re-invest in this relationship. Sales via Flipkart is expected to cross the half-a-million-mark soon.
To what extend has your decision to tie up with Flipkart helped in saving distribution costs
The decision to join hands with Flipkart was not really about reducing the distribution cost. The idea was to retain focus on the launch and ensure that the product reaches consumers across the country. Therefore, we decided to go with a strong partner, launch the phones in a very controlled environment and not follow the route taken by every other handset maker. Rather than building a distribution network, we invested all our energies in creating a product and launching at a good price, and this is the reason behind our success.
You had earlier spoken about how Motorola will be launching select models and is not looking at being present at every price point. What was the idea behind that
We are looking at price segments where we can make a real difference in the life of Indian consumers. If you look at the $100-200 price range, there are not too many good options. For example, there are about 375 million people across the world who are expected to buy smartphones this year. Our aim is to reach out to these consumers with affordable smartphones which will provide them great internet experience. As of now, we are not looking beyond the $200 range. However, that does not mean that our move has hurt our business. We are still making profits.
Going forward which is an area that you intend to build
After-sales service has been another very important part of our overall strategy. I was personally involved in creating a plan that ensures that the after-sales service being provided by Motorola is commendable and that there are a sufficient number of service centres in the country. We have increased the number of service centres from 100 to 130-140 currently.