Apple has its own retail presence. Xiaomi has been heavily investing in offline retail to turn things around. Samsung is playing with the idea of retail. It makes sense, then, that Google is reportedly considering launching brick-and-mortar stores in India.
The three people that spoke with The Economic Times seem a bit conflicted about where Google is with regards to its retail plans. One person said the company has plans to open “experience centers” in India, while the second said Google is “considering it.” A third person went as far as to say that the company hired a senior Apple executive as part of its retail plan.
Also, at least “two prominent malls” in India said Google contacted them regarding available space, with one executive saying that Google has “a flavor of how physical stores are also important because you can’t explain many of the features online.” Google has had several pop-up stores in malls across India and was reportedly encouraged by the response to the stores.
As for the brick-and-mortar stores, they will presumably help Google gain some traction in the Indian smartphone market, which overtook the US as the second-largest smartphone market in the world. Google lags behind the likes of Samsung, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, and even Apple, which began local production of its iPhone SE in India back in May.
As such, expect Google’s stores to heavily push its Pixel smartphones in an effort to boost smartphone sales in the country. However, Google is also expected to use its stores to sell other hardware, such as the Chromebook Pixel, Google Home, Google Home Mini, Chromecast, Chromecast Ultra, and Daydream View.
Still unclear is when the company plan to open these stores or how it will apply for them. As The Economic Times notes, Google can go down the single-brand retailing license, which will give the company complete ownership, or the franchisee route, which allows others to officially sell Google products.
Also unknown is whether Google will open physical locations elsewhere. The company has already dabbled with pop-up stores in New York City and Los Angeles, so perhaps they are precursors to something greater? Regardless, we’ll keep you informed with any updates we receive.