Back in May 2018 it was reported online that an ‘Official Xiaomi Australia’ store had opened up in Chatswood, Sydney. Before then Xiaomi had never had an official presence in Australia and instead people flocked to online Chinese stores to purchase their goods.
Naturally people were skeptical as Xiaomi themselves had never announced anything nor were there any media reports. But it all seemed legitimate as they were using the ‘Mi logo’, had the store designed the same way as official Mi Stores’ and were advertising for jobs on WeChat.
People online reported that the prices in store were much higher than what was available online. But speculated that this was due to the extra overheads associated with running a physical store.
I reached out to Xiaomi in late 2018 to confirm if this was the real deal. According to Customer Support this store was not an “authentic Xiaomi seller”. To see for myself I decided to take a train to Chatswood to see if they were a real deal.
What I found was a store that looked exactly like official Mi Stores’ complete with the Mi logo. Upon entry I saw the familiar wooden tables, white colour scheme and bright lights with displays of Xiaomi products.
The product shelves were quite bare, but that was likely due to the “20% off sale” they were holding. Despite this the products were still 10-20% more expensive than what would be found online.
Upon asking the staff if they were the real deal I was given the response “We are a distributor” and nothing more. With this and the business details from their now defunct website it was determined that they were simply reseller operating under the name Ausmall United Pty Ltd T/A Ausmall Xiaomi Australia.
Now this is where the story takes an interesting turn. As reported by PC World in April, Xiaomi announced an official partnership with local distributor Panmi to manage the brand in Australia. This partnership includes the setup of an official online store and a range of brick and mortar stores across Australia.
Following this announcement Ausmall closed down their Chatswood and online store for rebranding. Since then Ausmall have renamed themselves to bNext Australia and now operate a ‘Huawei Experience Store’ in the same location. According to Huawei Australia this store is an Official Distributor.
It would seem with no official Xiaomi presence in Australia they saw an opportunity to fill the void by creating an official-looking brick and mortar store. This move now ends the short lived reign of the ‘Fake Xiaomi Australia Store’.
The REAL Xiaomi Australia
Since the announcement of the new partnership Panmi have been busy. Their Online Store is filled with products and they’ve opened their first brick and mortar store in Chippendale, Sydney. It’s also been rumoured that they’re in negotiations with telco Optus to sell their phones outright and on plans.
So far the only downside is that Panmi’s prices are quite expensive compared to overseas stores. However the advantage of purchasing from Panmi is the 12 month AU warranty with local returns and repairs.