Sales Channels for Mobile Devices in Brazil

Brazil has an intricate market for the commercialisation of mobile devices, which involves not only traditional channels like mobile carriers stores, but also alternative channels that are often not used in other countries in the world.

In this article we will outline what the main channels used by the OEMs are and what brand profiles are most likely to use each of the channels.

As Brazil still has a large share of prepaid mobile phone users, carrier stores are not necessarily the go to place when people head to find their new mobile devices. This created an opportunity for alternative sales channels to be established across the country, leading retail stores that wouldn’t traditionally sell this type of product such as stationery and books stores to create dedicated display space in their highest foot traffic areas for these devices.

Mobile Carrier stores

The selection of devices available at carrier stores are often rather limited and so is the variety of brands distributed through this channel, as operators tend to mainly offer mid to high-end devices in their stores. Brands that are commonly found in the carrier retail stores are Samsung, LG, Apple, Motorola and Sony.

Most devices sold at the carrier stores receive some level of customisation on a software level. Traditionally mobile operators demand device manufacturers to ship a set of apps and to add other customisable features such as the operator ringtones or wallpapers. The exception for this are Apple devices, which do not receive any customisation from the operators.

Entry-level phones distribution

Smartphones of entry-level and of lesser known brands are more likely to be found outside mobile carrier stores as they are intended to reach an audience that are not loyal to any operator. This is the audience that will typically be using pre-paid phones, and who are not entitled to offers that the carrier provides to their post-paid clients. This type of phone corresponds to the largest share in number of active phones in Brazil and are represented by brands with local production facilities such as Positivo, Multilaser, DL, Qbex, Gradiente, Quantum, etc. Aside from these Brazilian brands, we include in this category imported phones of lesser known brands that may even be lacking proper homologation from Anatel, and other replica models of feature and smartphones.

A large volume of these smartphones are sold in retail department stores, both online and in physical stores, such as in Lojas Americanas, Havan, Casas Bahia, Magazine Luiza, Ricardo Eletro, Ponto Frio, etc. Some entry level models may also be found in stores where we would not be looking for these types of electronics. You may find the devices at:

  • Stationery store chains like Kalunga
  • Hypermarket and supermarket chains such as Carrefour, Extra, Walmart, Muffato
  • Fashion stores like C&A and Riachuelo

Most of these stores give little or no assistance at all under the purchasing process and provide even less service related to post sales support.

High-end mobile devices distribution outlets

Besides from being available in carrier stores, where they are commercialised along with post paid plans, and used as a strategy to keep customers locked to a minimum contract period, higher spec mobile devices can be found in a few selected physical stores such as:

  • Bookstore chain Saraiva
  • Home appliance chain Fast Shop
  • Bookstore chain Fnac
  • Flagship stores, like the ones of Apple, Samsung, etc

High end mobile devices are also widely commercialised online, either through the retailers webshops or through the manufacturer’s own websites.

Sales of devices online

According to the report Webshoppers by e-bit, published in late 2016, smartphones were the items that were most sought after and purchased by Brazilian online shoppers that year, representing 20% of the total revenue generated by e-commerce in Brazil during the year.

This figure shows the importance of this channel and explains why some of the brands, like Xiaomi, choose the strategy to prioritise sales of the devices to happen exclusively online ahead of physical stores.

However, buying smartphones online only became a bigger trend over the last few years. Prior to this, online shops that sold phones had a very limited selection of low end devices and the high end models could only be found in less known shops, or which were considered questionable in terms of reputation. Over the last years, the larger OEMs created their own webshops and began sales online. The most notorious cases are Samsung, LG, Motorola/Lenovo, Asus, and Sony, which all have their own webshops.

The use of online marketplaces such as Americanas, Shoptime, Submarino, and SouBarato, both managed by B2W, have also proven to be an attractive option for mobile phone OEMs and other stores, who can perform fulfillment themselves. Marketplaces options are also offered by other larger e-commerce companies like CNOVA, who manage Casas Bahia and Ponto Frio.

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