​Xiaomi's 'very limited' sales come to US and Europe for the first time this week

Xiaomi is kicking off its first online sales to Europe and the US, shipping goods directly from its factory in China.

Xiaomi will begin selling to Western markets this week, making "very limited quantities" of accessories available to buyers in the US, UK, France and Germany for the first time.

The Chinese smartphone maker isn't willing to start selling its handsets to Europe and the US just yet, but it will test the waters with a range of accessories including its power banks, headphones, and activity trackers.

The company announced in February it would kick off accessory sales in the US shortly and later confirmed a similar plan for Europe, but said smartphones wouldn't be going on sale either market: Xiaomi's international chief Hugo Barra cited manufacturing, regulatory, and language obstacles to the move.

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Languages weren't an issue for Xiaomi when it made an announcement on Facebook about the impending launch of mi.com 'beta' for the four markets, however.

"Salut Mi fans, nous avons des nouvelles très intéressant! For the 1st time ever, fans in US, UK, France and Germany can shop on mi.com (beta test) and purchase star accessories like the 5000mAh and 10400mAh Mi power banks, Mi Band and Mi Headphones!" the announcement said.

To familiarise new buyers with its sales processes, Xiaomi has also posted a 'Mi Buying Guide' on its Facebook page, which says buyers need to "log in early before the sale starts". Xiaomi of course is well-known for launching new handsets in limited quantities that often sell out within seconds.

Buyers can expect a few differences between buying from Xiaomi direct compared with purchasing hardware online from a local retailer.

For one, Xiaomi ships the goods "directly from our China warehouses to your country", which means they will attract customs duties. Those are estimated upfront by Xiaomi and handled by the company but may be challenged by customs.

The company does accept credit cards but warns that they need to support online and international payments. Its preferred method appears to be PayPal and the company promises to ship the goods within seven working days.

Buyers are also limited to checking out with a maximum of two units per item, except for the $79 Mi Headphones, which are capped at one.

The 10400mAh Mi Power Bank is available for $14, the 5000mAh Mi Power Bank will set buyers back $10, and the Mi Band costs $15. While early days for Xiaomi, its store for US and European buyers is quite sparse compared to its Chinese equivalent.

Xiaomi also doesn't offer free shippin: the store will display shipping costs at check out, but warns that it will not be liable for the cost of shipping items that consumers want to return, which can be as high as $55 for the first 500g.

US buyers can return goods within 30 days of receiving the good, while Europeans have 14 days. The main hardware for each item have 12 month warranties.

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