AIMRA Accuses Poco of Favoring Online Sales and Anti-Competitive Practices

AIMRA accuses Poco of anti-competitive behavior, favoring online sales over offline retailers. Outcome could impact e-commerce vs. brick-and-mortar balance in India's booming smartphone market.

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AIMRA Accuses Poco of Favoring Online Sales and Anti-Competitive Practices

AIMRA Accuses Poco of Favoring Online Sales and Anti-Competitive Practices

The All India Mobile Retailers Association (AIMRA) has accused smartphone brand Poco of engaging in anti-competitive behavior by favoring online sales channels over offline retailers. AIMRA, which represents over 150,000 mobile retailers seeking license across India, claims that Poco's strategy appears to heavily favor exclusive online sales, which they believe is harmful and unfavorable to fair competition in the market.

Navneet Pathak, AIMRA's national joint general secretary, stated that the association has raised the issue with Poco India's country head, Himanshu Tandon, as well as other regulatory authorities, including the finance and commerce ministry and the Competition Commission of India (CCI). AIMRA has called for an investigation into Poco's operations and sales practices.

In response to the allegations, Tandon asserted that Poco is committed to offering customers diverse purchasing options through legitimate channels. He highlighted the company's strategic partnership with Jio Mart Digital as their official offline distributor. However, AIMRA representatives from several Indian states have challenged Poco's claims, noting a lack of Poco products available in their regions despite the Jio Mart Digital partnership. They argue that Jio Mart Digital's limited presence hinders the effective promotion and sale of Poco devices through offline channels.

Why this matters: The allegations against Poco by AIMRA highlight the ongoing challenges and tensions between online and offline sales channels in the rapidly growing Indian smartphone market. The outcome of this case could have significant implications for the balance of power between e-commerce platforms and traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, as well as the enforcement of fair competition practices in the industry.

The Poco controversy comes on the heels of a similar dispute involving OnePlus, another smartphone brand accused of favoring online sales. The Organized Retailers Association (ORA), representing 4,300 brick and mortar stores in South India, announced that its members will stop selling OnePlus products starting May 1, 2024, citing issues such as insufficient inventory, poor margins, mishandled service claims, and lack of involvement in promoter visits and product demos.

Key Takeaways

  • AIMRA accuses Poco of favoring online sales over offline retailers, seeks investigation.
  • Poco claims to offer diverse purchasing options, but AIMRA disputes limited offline presence.
  • Ongoing tensions between online and offline sales channels in the Indian smartphone market.
  • Similar dispute with OnePlus, where offline retailers threaten to stop selling their products.
  • AIMRA committed to ensuring a level playing field and fair competition for offline retailers.