As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, online channels for smartphone sales are benefiting from the change in buying patterns, according to the latest Counterpoint Research report on online smartphone sales growth. The share of online channel sales in total global smartphone sales was around 20% last year. We expect this figure to reach 23% this year.
India continues to lead in online sales, with 40% of all smartphones being sold online during Q1 this year. The UK recorded 35% and China 30% share of online sales. On the other hand, countries with strong offline distribution and carrier control, such as the US, Japan and South Korea, saw relatively low online sales.
The US recorded 14% share of online smartphone sales in 2019, which rose to 17% as COVID-19 started to spread in the country. In terms of brands, Apple dominated online sales with 44% share. Its iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro Max were the bestsellers in both online and offline channels. Samsung’s Galaxy A10e was the No. 3 best-selling model in the online channel.
As much as 40% of India’s smartphone sales came from online channels in the first quarter of 2020. Flipkart hosted half of online sales during the quarter. The online market saw sales rise following the implementation of lockdowns and social distancing measures due to COVID-19. Xiaomi was the leading brand in online channels across the country, accounting for 51% of total online sales. The company saw 67% of its total sales happening online during Q1 2020. In contrast, Vivo sold only 11% of its phones online.
Online smartphone sales in China reached 30% in the first quarter of 2020. JD.com led among online platforms while Huawei smartphones ranked first in both online and offline channels. The top two brands in online were Honor and Xiaomi.
Europe, CIS, Latin America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa all showed growth in online sales.
Omnichannel innovation is currently gathering steam in the European consumer market and driving the growth of online channels.
In Latin America, online stores of major electronic retailers and department stores drive the online market, with mid- and low- priced models from Samsung and Motorola popular here.
Southeast Asia is the region with steepest growth in overall e-commerce recently. Lazada is the leader in smartphone sale channels in Southeast Asia and holds almost 60% share.
COVID-19 is a global crisis which is also changing the purchasing behavior of users worldwide. In our view, this change will continue even after the pandemic is over as it may have permanently affected the financial strength of certain distribution channels, for better or worse. Brands leveraging the growth of online will definitely ride the tide this year and next.
A detailed report on online smartphone sales is available here for subscribers.