JioPhone handset booking begins Thursday evening

Pre-booking can be done against an amount of Rs. 500, which will be adjusted against the fully refundable, one-time, security deposit at the time of delivery.

NEW DELHI: Reliance Industries is bracing for an initial demand supply mismatch, senior executives at the company with knowledge of the matter said, as it starts pre-booking of its much-anticipated 4G feature phone from Thursday evening, with an initial deposit of Rs 500 apiece.

The Mukesh Ambani-owned company is training hundreds of sales people, its own and those from largeformat retail chains such as The Mobile Store and Sangeetha Mobiles, for educating consumers on booking the JioPhone.

“Our sales people will begin taking prebookings of the JioPhone for Rs 500 and will begin giving the phones when they arrive in September for an additional Rs 1,000,” said Subhash Chandra, the managing director of Sangeetha Mobiles.

Reliance Industries plans to gradually ramp up supply and aims to eventually have 5 million of the JioPhone available on retail channels every week. The mass market 4G phone being offered effectively free — the company takes a three year, interest-free refundable deposit of Rs 1,500 — is key to new telecom operator Reliance Jio’s bid to quickly scale up its nearly 125 million user base by targeting the 500 million feature phone users.

Jio has been messaging its customers about the JioPhone and how to do the pre-booking. Retail chains on their own have also begun informing customers about the availability of the device, said another executive aware of the details of the plans.

The phone will be distributed on a first-come-first-served basis through Jio retailers, multi-brand device retailers and the network of Reliance Digital stores.

According to Reliance Digital store executives, if the JioPhone is pre-booked through the Reliance Industries retail unit, it should be collected from the specific Reliance store whose code would be SMSed to the customer.

Some retailers said Reliance was ensuring that the initial stock would go its own Reliance Digital stores to attract footfalls and consumer interest and that other retailers would get stock later on.

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Retailers will have to upgrade their Jio point-of-sale machines with a new software which will support issuing of the pre-booking vouchers and payment through BHIM, Jio Money, Paytm and net banking. Each retailer would be able to issue only 40 vouchers in the first lot. The phones will be imported initially, but the company plans to make them in India by the year-end. Reliance Jio didn’t respond to emailed queries.

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