Reliance Jio , which will be its front-end to sell both 4G connections and devices in the run up to the telecom arm’s launch expected in October.Two senior industry executives on condition of anonymity said the retail push strategy comes amid slow sales of Reliance’s Lyf handsets. Distributors and retailers said they are hoping sales will pick up after the much-awaited launch of 4G services.Reliance Jio will bundle 10GB of 4G data free for the first three months with Lyf handsets. Eventually, the telecom company will also have the largest number of brand stores amongst its peers on account of this rebranding exercise.The three large and the 70 small cityspecific distributors which Reliance Jio had taken from smartphone market leader Samsung are still continuing despite a fall in their revenues but they have been assured good business in the next few months, industry executives said.
“Stock has already started moving and we have been told to be patient for a couple of months for retail sales to pick up,” said a large distributor of Lyf who did not wish to be named. “While Reliance has built a good distribution network for Lyf handsets covering more than 1.2 lakh retailers in the country, the re-branding of its own Digital Express stores into Jio outlets will give the business an immediate uplift since several of these stores are in malls and prime locations and have already built up a customer base,” said one of the executives.Reliance Retail is the country’s largest consumer electronics retailer with 1,748 outlets in over 500 cities as of March 2016. The large format Reliance Digital stores will continue its existing format as multi-brand electronics store but will also sell Lyf handsets and connections amongst others.The smaller rebranded Jio stores will sell 4G connections, smartphones including partner models of other brands and will also have a customer service operation. An email sent to Reliance Retail did not elicit any response till Thursday press time.According to Counterpoint Technology Market Research, Lyf has become the fifth-largest brand among smartphones in India with 7% share in the January-March quarter by shipments and is the second largest in the 4G segment after Samsung. However, retail sales are much less and analysts say the next few quarters will be critical for Lyf.Reliance had built its Lyf handset business under ex-Samsung and Blackberry chief Sunil Dutt who is president for the devices business at Reliance Jio. Dutt had poached 40-50 mid-level executives from Samsung to build his team. “Lyf suffered initially because the company did not push sales,” an industry executive said.
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