Chinese giant Xiaomi opens flagship store on Champs-Elysees

Symbolic turning for Xiaomi. Six months after Samsung and two months after Apple, the world's fourth largest maker of smartphones arrives in turn on the Champs-Elysees. The Chinese group inaugurated this Friday, its fourth store in the Paris region, an area of ​​almost 500 square meters which is also its largest store in Europe. Seven months after arriving in France, Xiaomi wants to use this prestigious address to increase its reputation on this avenue that sees 300,000 people per day, according to the Committee of Champs-Elysees.

"This inauguration confirms the attraction of the avenue and also shows that telephony is becoming more and more a lifestyle universe. Orange and SFR were certainly present for a long time, but the high-tech sector is now strengthening qualitativelycomments Edouard Lefebvre, the director general of this organization which promotes the 'Champs'. This is an excellent choice for Xiaomi: they will be close to their competitors Apple and Samsung as the Champs-Elysees go upmarket. "

Rise in power

While Huawei, far ahead of Xiaomi with 14.6% market share in the third quarter, against 9.5% according to IDC, through one of the biggest crises in its history, the arrival of Xiaomi on the Champs-Elysees confirms the rise of Chinese smartphone players. Although Chinese banks, such as the Bank of Communications, were already present on the floors of the Champs-Elysees buildings, no Chinese brand had so far been established. Neither the social climate in France, nor the Huawei case have obviously discouraged Xiaomi from inaugurating its flagship store ... a day before Act X of the "yellow vests".

This Friday morning, a hundred people, wearing orange hats - the color of the brand - waited patiently for the opening of the store despite the cold. Among the crowd, several fans, drawn lots, even had a minute to rob robbery and take away all the products of their choice. In the store: the group's smartphones and all its gadgets. Electric toothbrushes, connected light bulbs, suitcases and even wooden toys for children.

Hard shops

Born in 2010 in Beijing, Xiaomi first opted in China for a digital strategy with distribution on major e-commerce platforms and on its own site, in order to limit costs. After being outdistanced by his rivals who bet on physical locations, Xiaomi changed his mind and opened in turn some shops. The group now has more than 1,600 in China, 300 in the rest of the world (excluding India), including about 100 in Europe.

"These shops allow us to offer certified products that better meet the expectations of different markets, but also a better after-sales service, in the language of the country, explains Wang Xiang, Xiaomi's vice president of internationalization (the group is present in 82 countries). Customers can also see all of our connected home products because we are more than just a smartphone maker. Most of our fans are technology savvy and know us through our online presence. From now on, we must expand our clientele. "

Less than 5% of the market

After this inauguration with great fanfare, Xiaomi will have to accelerate because the group is still a Tom Thumb on the French smartphone market. In November, according to GfK, it was in sixth place, with 4.6% of the market (in volume), against more than 29% for Samsung. But the brand is well positioned in the smartphone segment between 150 and 200 euros, with a market share of almost 17%, according to GfK.

After Spain - where it opened 30 shops and rose in a few months on the third step of the podium builders - France is still "One of the biggest Xiaomi markets in Europe", according to Wang Xiang. The group is studying the possibility of investing in French start-ups. After his electronic gadgets, he could also market in France its services, such as its platform IoT (Internet of Things) which already connects in the world ... 132 million devices.

Raphael Balenieri

S├ębastien Dumoulin