[Editor's note, May 13 Wednesday 5.30pm: Representatives for the two companies have clarified only now that the launch announcement this week is for consumers to "register their interest" to purchase the A7000. Actual availability dates have just been provided and have been updated in the article.]
Lenovo says it has inked a partnership with e-commerce operator Lazada, giving the latter exclusive rights to retail its new A7000 smartphone across six Asean markets.
The agreement is an extension of a relationship that first saw the Chinese smartphone manufacturer launch its A6000 on Lazada Indonesia in March 2015, where 5,000 and 10,000 units of the device, respectively, were sold under 10 minutes each during two flash sales.
The new deal marks the first time Lenovo is launching its product concurrently in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines, said Dillon Ye, Lenovo's rest of world sales lead for mobile business group.
Speaking to ZDNet in a phone interview, Ye stressed the importance of tapping the internet to reach the Asean region's combined population of about 550 million. "The online platform can touch big populations in an effective way and is especially popular in this region," he said, adding that Lenovo was aggressively growing its market share in emerging markets.
"Due to the rapid growth of mobile internet, e-commerce, and interactive marketing, we anticipate a significant change in the traditional technology business model," he noted. Lenovo must adapt quickly to ensure it remains competitive amid this changing market landscape, Ye said, pointing to Lazada as an important partnership to reach consumers in this region.
Launched in March 2012, Lazada currently operates local sites in the six Asean markets and clocks more than 5 million visits a day across its websites and mobile apps. Its shopping sites offer products across several categories including consumer electronics, toys, fashion, sports equipment and household items.
When asked about the diversity of the Asean region, where consumer requirements in Singapore might differ from those in Vietnam, Lazada CEO Maximilian Bittner told ZDNet that the e-commerce operator was familiar with local traits. These include preferred payment methods and logistics in the various local markets.
"So, yes, the region is fragmented and diverse, but we know the local specifics and can work efficiently with Lenovo to roll this out and reach consumers very quickly," Bittner said.
Ye declined to comment directly about competitor Xiaomi, which had achieved much of its success through online sales, but highlighted the importance of offering "innovative products at affordable prices". Noting that the Lenovo A7000's price tag in Singapore is S$229, he said: "First, you need attractive offerings. Second, you need partnerships with strong online platforms so you can deliver the products to large populations in an efficient way."
Asked if the company planned to keep future product launches exclusive through Lazada, Ye said Lenovo was keen on a long-term growth strategy with the e-commerce operator following the successful first online launch in Indonesia.
Lenovo has several e-commerce partnerships in China, including taobao.com, 360buy.com, and newegg.com.cn.
According to Bittner, the A6000 launch in the Indonesian market was Lazada's most successful exclusive launch partnership with a brand in terms of the volume of orders. The e-commerce site's annualized GMV (Gross Merchandise Volume) just passed US$1 billion in end-March, he noted, adding that its sites currently sell close to 2 million product items. Lazada serves some 5 million customers.
Consumers can register their interest for the A7000 via the online stores in their respective local Asean market. Pricing and availability details are listed on the local sites. The Lenovo smartphone features a 5.5-inch HD screen, Dolby AtmosTM technology, and MediaTek 4G LTE True8CoreTM processor.
The Lenovo device will be available from May 19 in Indonesia, May 20 in Malaysia, May 21 for Thailand and the Philippines, and May 22 for Vietnam and Singapore.