The Chinese voice recognition specialist iFlyTek is going against the grain with its sales strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has announced that it plans to open 1,000 physical retail outlets before the end of the year.
The dramatic expansion will bring the company’s footprint to a total of around 3,000 locations. iFlyTek currently generates roughly equal amounts of online and offline sales, but expects that balance to tip towards offline sales in the future, when those offline sales will account for 70 percent of the company’s business.
The news comes at a time when online sales are skyrocketing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing requirements have forced many brick-and-mortar establishments to shut down to stop the spread of the disease, but iFlyTek obviously believes that things will eventually return to normal once the threat has passed.
“Some internet companies start with e-commerce, finding it easier [to manage],” said iFlyTek vice-president Li Chuangang, speaking to South China Morning Post. “But to be a truly great brand, an offline [sales channel] is indispensable and will play an increasingly important role as brands grow.”
While iFlyTek is optimistic about its offline prospects, NuData has suggested that COVID-19 could lead to permanent changes in consumer behavior if online merchants are able to improve their customer experience. To that end, Nuggets has modified its app to enable secure contactless deliveries for online sales.
The iFlyTek portfolio contains a number of different products with speech recognition capabilities, including educational toys and a smart translator. The company also sells a smart recorder, and has now released a new version with a faster transcription speed.
iFlyTek is hoping to increase deployments in China after updating its voice recognition platform in January. The company has been blacklisted in the U.S. for its involvement in a surveillance scheme in the Xinjiang region.
Source: South China Morning Post
May 29, 2020 – by Eric Weiss