All India Mobile Retailer’s Association (AIMRA), which represents 1.5 lakh general trade stores, and Organised Retailers Association, which comprises of 15 cellphone retail chains in South with more than 3,000 stores, have written the letters to OnePlus. ET has reviewed the letters.
Executives of these bodies said if OnePlus does not allow them to sell online when shopping behaviour has changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they will approach the Centre and may even completely boycott the brand.
A OnePlus spokesperson said the company values its relationship with offline retail partners and attribute the partnership with them for success in the Indian market.
“We are continuously and consistently working with them to strengthen this relation, and maintain a healthy stock supply aligned with the market dynamics,” the person said.
As per market tracker Counterpoint Research, e-commerce contribution to overall smartphone sales reached an all-time high in India during April-June quarter at 45%.
Apparently, OnePlus had allowed all retailers to sell online when the pandemic started, but last week asked them to stop it. OnePlus competes closely with Apple’s iPhone and Samsung in the Indian market.
AIMRA president Arvinder Khurana said when over 50,000 daily Covid-19 cases are reported in the country, consumers are going to continue online purchases even from the offline stores as the new normal.
“We have requested OnePlus to roll back its decision to stop offline stores from online sales. They had allowed offline to sell online during the start of the pandemic. If they don’t agree, we will approach the Centre,” he said.
The letter from Organised Retailers Association said: “As customers are scared to come to the shops due to the dangerous pandemic, this decision is like adding fuel to the fire. Please consider and allow us to sell the products via our online platforms. Also, the company’s thought process of offering products exclusively to an online partner at first and then to all our retail chains is hugely an injustice. Mobile phone buying is quite impulsive in nature and interested consumers wanted to buy it instantly, the moment it’s launched. The same when we get after a gap of 10 to 15 days attracts a very less traction, hence a big opportunity loss.”
The Southern chains have also written that the government’s FDI rules for foreign companies explicitly condemns exclusivity clause.
AIMRA in its letter said after retailers set up their own e-store and mobile app stores as per the prime minister’s digital India initiative, a “Chinese brand not agreeing to let retailers sell online is not only against the law of the country and the Honourable Prime Minister’s vision, but will also not be taken in the right political sense. It will reflect poorly upon a Chinese company’s inability to co-operate towards a healthier Indian economy.”