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China’s largest smartphone seller makes an online push in the US

February 19, 2016 06:00 AM
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While China’s Huawei is already the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor in terms of market share in 2015, according to market research firm International Data Corp., it aims to boost its market share by driving more U.S. consumers to buy its products.

Huawei reports more than half of its sales come from overseas markets in 2015 and its market share in some European countries has topped 10%. However, the U.S. market contributed just 4% to Huawei’s sales, and the retailer wants to change that this year. “We will launch more products through online this year and continue to enhance our online engagements with U.S. shoppers,” Ashley He, senior marketing director of Huawei Devices USA Inc. tells Internet Retailer.

In 2014, Huawei sold one type of smartphone online in the United States. Now it sells five smartphone models, two tablets, two wearable devices and many accessories on its company site, gethuawei.com.    

In January, Huawei introduced its online-focused smartphone brand Honor in the United States. Huawei created the Honor brand in 2013 in China, designing it specifically for younger, budget-conscious consumers, much like phones made by Xiaomi, No. 2 in the Internet Retailer 2015 China 500. Huawei shipped about 100 million smartphones in 2015; Xiaomi shipped about 70 million, according to IDC.

Huawei says it sold $2.6 billion worth Honor smartphones in the first half of 2015, double its sales in the same period a year ago.

“Now we sell Honor through many online channels in the U.S., including Honor’s official site Hihonor.com, our brand store on Amazon and Newegg,” He says. “The major product for Honor is a 5.5-inch smartphone, priced at $199. Honor’s digital channels are mainly managed by our team based in our office in Texas.”

Part of Huawei’s growth has come from its relationship with Google Inc., which it works with to produce its high-end Android smartphone Nexus 6P. The co-branded Huawei Nexus phone has helped Huawei bolster its brand recognition in the United States, He says. “We see online shoppers place many orders from the Google Store,” she says. “To bring more sales via Google, we also offer coupons to Nexus phone buyers on the Google Store to buy our smart watch.”

Huawei also added a users’ forum on its site and increased its investment in social media. The company more than tripled its followers on Facebook to 200,000 in 2015 from 600,000 in 2014. Huawei last year designed five marketing campaigns to utilize the social influences of celebrities. For example, Huawei has promoted its brand at the Sundance Film Festival and resulting buzz helped Huawei boost its social media audience.

In China, the smartphone market is dominated by unlocked phones, while in the United States more than 90% of mobile phones are sold through the networks of telecom operators, He says.

“In the future, we will operate the Huawei brand more toward operator channels and Honor will target online buyers,” He says, “The major resources for our web sales come from stores on marketplaces like Amazon and Newegg, and we hope those stores can bring long-term consumers for our official sites.” 

The parent company of Huawei’s devices, telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., reported its revenue grew 35% in 2015 to $60 billion. 

Huawei is No. 14 in the China 500 and its web sales grew 69% in 2014, according to Internet Retailer’s Top500guide.com. 

 

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