India's largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel has launched its own online store. The site mainly has three segments- 'for me', 'for emerging business' and 'for enterprise business'. The consumer or 'for me' segment has five categories (further divided into sub-categories) including mobile, broadband, digital TV, 4G LTE and business.
The various handset brands being offered in the mobiles section on the site include Apple, HTC, LG, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson (although the catalogue is not too exhaustive). The mobile phones can be filtered by price and as of now Apple's iPhone 4S (32GB model) is the costliest (Rs 50,900) mobile being offered on the site while Nokia 100 is the cheapest (Rs 1,221).
The other offerings include broadband and digital TV that simply allows users to buy the company's broadband and digital connections online. And to further entice customers, the company is providing Rs 500 cash back for every broadband connection and Rs 250 cash back for every digital TV connection bought online. Then there is the 4G LTE section which is offering 4G connections with via Airtel 4G LTE devices like USB modems/sticks and indoor wireless gateways, although these connections are only available in Kolkata and Bengaluru as of now.
The company is also offering enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions online under its business section and is in the process of launching services like online virtual computing and online storage on demand.
The store is powered by Infibeam's Build A Bazaar platform (the company also powers The Mobile Store, Crossword and the recent addition Vijay Sales, among others). Additionally, both the availability and the delivery of the mobile phones are being handled by Infibeam's parent company NSI Infinium Global Pvt Ltd.
A message on the site reads, "Airtel doesn't sell or deliver mobile phones. The mobile phone shall be made available and delivered by NSI Infinium Global Pvt Ltd and order acceptance and delivery is subject to stock availability at the company."
This basically means that the website is probably simply sourcing the mobile phones from Infibeam.com (we checked the prices on both sites; they are exactly the same and are offering the same discounts). But then why would Airtel do that in the first place? The reason is simple; Airtel is offering the handsets bundled with its data plans. For example, users will get 2GB of 3G data per month free for 4 months if they buy Nokia Lumia 800 from the site and 500MB of data per month for 3 months along with 200 minutes of Mobile TV and 100 full song download free with HTC's latest mobile offering 'One X', among other plans.
So we figure that this way, Airtel can make commissions from Infibeam for every sale of mobile phone (which is usually the case) from the site and also promote its own mobile connection (via data plans) in the process.