As the market for commercial drones goes more mainstream, the industry’s biggest players are trying to attract a wider range of consumers.
The world’s largest consumer drone maker, China’s SZ DJI Technology Co., is preparing to open its first flagship retail store in a Shenzhen shopping center next month.
The new store, with floor space of about 800 square meters (8,611 square feet), is DJI’s biggest retail investment to date anywhere in the world, the company says, without disclosing the size of the investment.
DJI works with dealers around the world to sell its drones overseas. While the company runs small airport shops and other pop-up stores, most of its direct retail sales, so far, come from its own online store.
The Shenzhen flagship store will showcase all DJI products, from high-end and entry-level drones to other gadgets like the Osmo robotic selfie stick, the company says. DJI’s high-end professional drone, the Inspire 1, can cost more than $4,000 depending on the type of camera and other features, while its most affordable Phantom 2 drone costs about $500.
DJI’s latest move comes when the consumer drone market is expanding world-wide, while competition is intensifying from rivals offering low-cost products. A DJI spokesman said the company will likely work on more flagship retail stores around the world in the future, even though it currently has no specific plans.
DJI has funded its rapid expansion mostly with its own cash flow. In May, Silicon Valley venture capital firm Accel Partners invested $75 million in DJI, valuing the Shenzhen-based company at roughly $8 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported at that time.
Even though DJI is a Chinese company, it generates most of its sales in overseas markets such as the U.S.
In China, the drone market is still in its infancy, analysts and drone dealers say. Therefore, companies like DJI need to spend more on marketing to convince average shoppers to spend hundreds of dollars on drones, they say.
According to DJI, part of the purpose of the new flagship store is to get more consumers who aren’t already familiar with drones to play with them and become interested.
“We want more people to see and touch our products,” a DJI spokesman says.