There is now a mobile device out there for every type of customer, ranging from the adventurous to the cost-conscious and the luxury-seeker. Thanks to chipmakers and third-party service providers, the device-creation process is more streamlined than ever, making it easier to bring a new mobile device idea to life. With a vast array of device features and options currently available, there is no wonder we are seeing more customization and greater diversity surfacing everywhere.
Emerging markets, in particular, have been taking the lead on global smartphone growth, with China, India and Africa seeing massive booms in smartphone sales over the last few years. According to a report from GfK, Latin America is now the fastest-growing market in terms of smartphone units sold and total sales generated. It is without a doubt that emerging markets are where smartphone makers want to be. These profitable markets are shaping the industry, and successful entrants are those able to offer high-specification phones at low price points — a key reason behind the major success of smartphone makers like Xiaomi in China and Micromax in India.
That said, in this highly competitive emerging markets battleground, how exactly should smaller and niched OEM players compete with mobile goliaths like Apple and Samsung? Even if their devices are unique, they may not have the money, manpower or resources to facilitate a fully developed expansion into these extremely lucrative emerging markets.
Here’s my take: OEM players already have a low cost base and enhanced flexibility to their advantage. To effectively tackle the big players, they will do well to innovate their go-to-market and customer care strategies. Speed to market along with good, consistent customer support will determine how successful these niched OEM players will be. This is why engaging third-party customer care providers that offer turnkey customer support solutions can really make a huge difference to OEMs’ overall market entry strategies — and open huge doors for OEMs in emerging markets.
A turnkey solution with a well-defined business scope, fully developed global service partner network and well-staffed service stores is able to quickly and cost-efficiently offer state-of-the art customer care solutions for smartphone users. An OEM turning to third party providers is not dissimilar to how OEMs currently utilize established chip makers’ products when building their devices. Large or small, device providers need the same help with aftersales support.
Generally it takes significant effort and investment for OEMs to set up an aftersales and support network in a new region. Local people have to be hired, service partners have to be found and contracts made. There is also the issues of cultural differences and local tax laws. Today, OEMs can enter a new region or market in in less than a month by using third party aftersales service providers with local expertise. This means if a niche Chinese brand, for example, wants to enter the Indian market, they can have their aftersales and support system set up in just a matter of weeks. Combining high-quality, low-priced products and strong customer support empowers niched providers to enter new markets quickly and easily. Take a look at what Xiaomi has achieved in the last three years with 300 percent growth and now already the fifth largest smartphone vendor in the world, and it has only begun to penetrate markets outside of Asia and India. A prime example is Xiaomi’s recent European expansion via its partnership with B2X to support its existing customer base of gray imports there.
One thing is clear: OEM niche and value-priced players are here to give their big competitors a run for their money. With their innovative hardware, low prices and flexibility, they are already well-positioned to supply affordable, high-quality smartphones to customers globally. And with the added help of turnkey offerings providing dedicated customer support, niched OEM players are set to hold the key to smartphone success in these markets.
Max Grabmayr is products director at B2X, a leading provider of customer care solutions for smartphone devices to manufacturers.