Bengaluru: OnePlus expects e-commerce to remain its biggest sales channel in India over the next five years, a top executive said, even as the firm announced plans to open more offline stores.

The Chinese premium smartphone maker mainly uses two online platforms to sell in the country. These are its own website and Amazon India, which is currently its biggest sales channel.

“We will always put it (online) ahead of offline. After five years, I expect online to continue to be a dominant channel. We will always chase offline opportunities also but not in the most aggressive way. My sales plan will be based on online, and offline will act as a top-up," said Vikas Agarwal, general manager of OnePlus India.

Although the smartphone maker has an online-first approach, its Bengaluru store, which opened a year-and-a-half ago, has exceeded all expectations, the firm said. That success has given it enough reason to expand its offline footprint.

OnePlus India plans to have four offline experience centres and 10 authorised stores in total by the year end. It has one experience centre in Bengaluru. The second experience centre will be opened in Chennai, while the company is considering Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad and Mumbai as options for the other two this year.

The firm also plans to strengthen its third sales channel in India—Croma stores. OnePlus started selling its phones at Tata group’s electronics retail chain Croma last year. That decision was a strategic shift in the phone maker’s strategy, which until then had been almost solely focused on e-commerce through Amazon. It now wants to create dedicated OnePlus sections in all large-format Croma stores.

Still, since OnePlus prioritises Amazon, the online retailer will continue to be its biggest sales channel, Agarwal said. OnePlus India’s links with Amazon go beyond the typical brand-sales channel partnership. “They’re aware of all our plans for the year. We do joint planning. We have a long-term commitment and alignment and that has been around since the beginning, not just in India but globally too. If you see all our promotions, Amazon has been highlighted prominently," Agarwal said.

OnePlus estimates that it has managed to capture around 40-45% of the premium smartphone market in India. Official numbers from research groups are yet to be published for the current quarter, but its market share was around 25% in the previous quarter, it said.

The Shenzen-based company, which wants to make India its second headquarters, also plans to set up a research and development centre in India later this year, which will focus on customising OnePlus’ products for Indian conditions and consumer requirements.

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