Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Storyboard18 - More experience stores and OnePlus 10 series coming to India soon: Navnit Nakra, CEO, OnePlus India

In this exclusive interview, Nakra also says that the company is committed to its growth in the offline world, as India becomes the first country with the largest OnePlus experience store globally

Published: Feb 28, 2022 03:36:07 PM IST

Storyboard18 - More experience stores and OnePlus 10 series coming to India soon: Navnit Nakra, CEO, OnePlus India
Navnit Nakra, CEO, OnePlus India

OnePlus started as an online-only smartphone player in 2014. Over the years, it has established itself as a strong contender in the Indian smartphone market. Initially launching devices known as ‘flagship killers,’ the brand now has devices across different price segments from mid-range to premium. The brand has also widened its portfolio with the launch of SmartTVs, wearables, audio devices and more. And it is now focused on expanding its offline presence in the Indian market.

The company launched OnePlus Boulevard—the largest OnePlus experience store globally. On the sidelines of the launch, Storyboard18 caught up with Navnit Nakra, CEO, OnePlus India, for an exclusive conversation. Nakra shares the company’s plans for the Indian market and more.

Edited excerpts.

OnePlus Boulevard is the largest OnePlus experience store globally. What does it say about the Indian market?
India has a very special place in our heart. The Indian community, the users have embraced this brand beautifully. It is a matter of great pride that of all the places in the world, we have chosen India, and specifically Bengaluru, to have the largest store. This is gratitude and a way of saying thanks for all the love and support that we have got from the community in India.

What was the thought behind designing this store?
For us, any experience with the OnePlus user is an opportunity to interact and learn from them. This store is based on the motto of OnePlus—Never Settle. We want to engage with the community and understand how they feel. The store brings all these zones—a gaming zone, a customer service centre, there is a reading lounge, and there is an auditorium—which will allow us to be close to our community. The idea is to bring us closer to the community and not look at it as a product display or a sales area.

What is the offline contribution compared to the online channel contribution for OnePlus in India? Is it bound to change as things return to normal?
In 2014 when we started, we were primarily seen as a digital-first brand, but expanding our retail presence either directly or through partner stores has always been part of the roadmap. We set up our first experience store in 2017, and today, our 100th store is also coming here, which is a part of the plan.

All distribution channels, all touchpoints are critical. In the last few years, our offline presence, whether it is with partners like Reliance Digital, Tata Croma, Sangeetha, Poorvika, Big C, Lord, Bajaj Electronics, has brought us so much closer to the community. We will continue to invest not only in our online presence but also in our offline presence.

Our product portfolio has also expanded over the last few years. We started with our flagship phone. Then we got into Smart TVs, we had the OnePlus Nord in 2020. Today, whether it is a OnePlus band or OnePlus audio device, I think the retail experience allows the consumer and the community to engage with us. Every store that we set up has a customer service centre which allows us to take their feedback better.

It has been a few years since you have expanded to other segments such as audio devices, smart wearables, TVs and so on. What are your plans in this direction in the coming days? Which other segments are you looking at?
The brand is about creating an ecosystem of very high-quality intuitive products and bringing it to the consumer for their personal use, their office use. What the pandemic has accelerated is the desire to have a high-quality product in your hand, in your ear or on your wrist. We will continue to build our portfolio beyond smartphones to smart TVs to audios to wearables. As time progresses, India will be the first market to experience all our new product launches.

What will be the key focus areas for OnePlus in the coming days?  
We are committed to our growth in the offline world. India is a market where post this pandemic, people will want to go out and experience the products. We are hoping to cross 15000 points of sale by the end of this year. Our internal target is that we will do it much faster. The second priority is to deliver on tremendous consumer and community experience. What you see here at the hundredth experience store is possibly Day 1 of what we want to do.

Are we to expect more experience stores from OnePlus in the coming days?  
We do feel very proud as Indians that we have got our largest experience store here. The second part is to deliver great products. Hopefully, this year—with 5G taking off the way in which we expect, I think the consumers are going to see the connectivity going up like never before. We want to be committed to future-ready devices and future-ready technology.

A new study shows that India is on its way to having more than 1 billion smartphone users by the year 2026. How many of these will be OnePlus users? What’s the target?
Our target is to serve the community with great products. We can’t take shortcuts on that. We will be happy if the community continues to bless us and engage with us. But for us, the broader target is how we bring better technology and the latest tech in the hands of the consumer out here.

When is the flagship OnePlus 10 series coming to India?
(Laughs) Soon. I am not allowed to speculate and give out details. But if it is the 10 series or any other series, India will be one of the first markets to experience it.