Vietnam’s biggest electronics retailer Mobile World (known locally as Thế Giới Di Động) just had one of its most successful months in October — second-best-ever revenue and best-ever profit number in Mobile World’s history.
October revenue: $540 million (39% growth year-on-year)
October profit after tax: $25 million (86% growth year-on-year)
Shaking hands with Apple
Mobile World’s record-breaking achievements are in part thanks to its recent partnership with the Cupertino-based technology giant Apple. On October 22, the same day the new iPhone 13 series was launched in Vietnam, Mobile World debuted not just one but four new TopZone stores in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City — a chain that sells only Apple products.
Within just 10 days of opening, the four TopZone stores contributed close to $2 million to October revenue (nearly $50,000 per store per day). The number of iPhone 13s sold through TopZone accounted for almost 10% of the total number of iPhone 13s sold across Mobile World’s entire network of stores.
What’s so special about this joint venture? This isn’t the first time we’re seeing Vietnamese retailers cooperating with Apple to distribute their products. But the thing is, Mobile World isn’t like the rest. The authorization that it got from Apple is unprecedented in Vietnam, and Mobile World has plans to open 50 to 60 TopZone stores by the end of the first quarter. TopZone stores have the same standards as an actual Apple Store, including the sleek store design and devices ranging from Watches to MacBooks to AirPods. Sales and customer service staff are trained according to Apple’s standards.
A win-win situation
With its experience and position as a retail giant in Vietnam with more than 2,700 stores nationwide, Mobile World is well-positioned to deliver Apple’s products. The retailer is starting out with the AAR (Apple Authorized Retailer) model first, which attaches TopZone to existing Mobile World or Điện Máy Xanh stores. Later, the company will roll out the APR (Apple Premium Retailer) model, featuring larger independent stores.
For Apple, Vietnam has always been one of its most promising markets in Asia. But Vietnam has no Apple Store. In Asia, Apple has mostly opened its iconic stores in China. Whether the company will eventually add Vietnam to its global map of 500-plus Apple Stores is an open question. In the meantime, Apple is fighting for market share with South Korean and Chinese brands, with Mobile World squarely in its corner.
According to a survey by Tomorrow Marketers, the supply of official iPhones in the market currently accounts for 60%, while the remaining 40% are ‘hand carried’ from overseas. These gaps showroom for Apple to grow in Vietnam, especially in regards to building a strong and reputable authorized distribution system.
Zoom out: If you think the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the retail industry, you’d be right. And Mobile World hasn’t been exempt. Like the rest of the retail sector, the 16-year-old company suffered a slump in third-quarter earnings as a surge in infections and widespread lockdowns slammed into the economy. Risks still abound, but Mobile World is focused on the rebound.
It turns out that TopZone isn’t the only retail venture that Mobile World is getting into. Looking for sporting goods? BlueSport got you. Looking for mom and baby products? BlueKids got you. Looking for new clothes? BlueFashion got you. Looking for jewelry? BlueJi got you. It’s Mobile World and we’re just living in it…