Flipkart, the homegrown ecommerce giant, has listed OnePlus 3 as one of the prominent mobile deals being offered under its ‘Big Shopping Days’ sale to be held from Saturday, Dec 17 onwards.
It has also put up a ‘coming soon’ page for the sought-after smartphone model.
However, OnePlus has an agreement with Amazon India that it will only sell its phones via the international retailer. Not surprisingly, OnePlus founder Carl Pei was not very happy with the promotion.
“Brother, what’s this, we’re exclusive with Amazon India,” said Carl Pei in a tweet to Sachin Bansal, the co-founder and chairman of Flipkart.
What is more interesting is that the model has been pitched at a price of ‘less than Rs 20,000’ by the Indian retail website, while it is selling for Rs 28,000 on Amazon. Most likely, the phone will be sold for Rs 18,999 tomorrow under the sale.
“This is the problem. For premium brands, trust is everything. We would never betray trust by dropping prices like this,” Pei added.
It remains to be seen if this is a marketing gimmick or a real case of Flipkart managing to bypass the restrictions imposed by the brand, but it looks like it’s the latter.
Many brands in India have tried to restrict online retailers, including rivals like Paytm and Snapdeal, from selling their handsets and stock.
But, as one company official put it: “In India, any person can buy our stock and sink it in the Arabian Sea, and we can’t do anything about it.”
However, while that is possible under a traditional, distributor-based model, it is much more difficult to secure stocks of OnePlus 3 when the only place to get it is Amazon, and that too at Rs 27,999.
It is unviable for Flipkart to buy the handsets at Rs 28,000 from Amazon and resell them on its own website at Rs 19,999 or less. However, the Indian website has clearly said that there will be “limited stocks” of the handset under the Big Shopping Days sale of December.
That seems to indicate that there is no marketing deal between OnePlus and Flipkart and Carl Pei was genuine in his complaint to Bansal.
Pei got some ‘feedback’ on his complaint from Twitter users. “Welcome to India, the land of ‘there are no rules’,” pointed out user @rojajimmy.
Even if Flipkart has to endure a loss of a few lakh rupees on this enterprise, it may be worth it, given the free publicity that the move will generate.
Besides, it is also likely that the Indian website is planning to price it considerably below the 20,000 mark, just to hit the headlines.
Many companies, including Xiaomi, regularly use ultra-low-price sales to generate social media buzz and help in marketing their products.
In addition to OnePlus, which comes with 6 GB of RAM and Snapdragon 820 processor, Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days will also offer deals on other mobile phones such as Samsung Galaxy On8 (current price Rs 15,900), Lenovo K5 Note, iPhone 6, Moto e3 Power, LeEco Le2 and Galaxy On Nxt.
It will also offer discounts on the newly launched Lenovo Phab 2.
In addition, it will tomorrow unveil a ‘crazy deal’ under which it will offer Rs 12,000 off on one smartphone.