The company confirmed that the US technology giant Apple’s first online retail channel in India will be launched on September 23. This is the first time the American company is opening a first-party retail channel in the country. So far, Apple has sold its products in India through offline partners and e-commerce.
Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s senior vice president of retail and personnel, said: One thing we learned is that when we enter the market through Apple Retail, all the boats go up. It has aroused great interest in our products, which are available on our online store, and through our trusted dealer network, we can keep in touch with customers. As of today, Apple Store Online is trading a wide range of Apple commodities, she added.
In addition to a wide range of all Apple products, this online store will also include its local contact center for the first time, which provides support and services to Indian customers. The company has also announced the opening of a dedicated training and education store in India, which will provide special prices on iPad tablets, Mac computers, their accessories, and Apple’s advanced support option known as AppleCare Plus.
Currently, the store will only provide Apple products, but third-party accessories should be added in the future. The company has also integrated cash on delivery (COD) and UPI payment options, among others.
Since the Indian government relaxed its local procurement regulations for companies such as Apple last year, it has been expecting Apple’s online store in India. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, confirmed the plan to launch Apple’s online retail channel during an earnings conference call earlier this year, but the pandemic delayed Apple’s plan for several months. With the next week’s launch, the American company will prepare for the festival sales period in the country.
According to industry estimations, the market share of Apple company in the Indian smartphone market is still about 2%, but the company has been making progress in India in the past few quarters. International Data Corporation (IDC) data reveals that Apple’s market share gained 48.8% in the high-end Indian market segment in the quarter ended June 2020, up from 41.2% a year ago.
Specialists credit this growth to solid sales of the 2020 version of the iPhone SE and supply chain problems faced by opponents such as OnePlus. IDC Research Director Navkendar Singh said that the current contribution of e-commerce to Indian electronic product sales reaches 42% to 45% each year.
Singh stated that although Apple still relies heavily on offline sales due to its premium prices, the American company also needs to do better online. He noted that most of Apple’s online sales are mainly depend on Amazon and Flipkart, which have obtained much larger volumes in the low-price segments, led by Chinese corporations such as Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo.
Retail stores will help Apple overcome certain obstacles, such as ensuring the availability of its wide range of all accessories and products that partners may be unable or unwilling to provide. It also helps companies control the customer experience to a greater extent. In the absence of its physical retail stores, this can be a big factor. However, Apple is known for its shopping experience, Singh asserted.
To that end, the online store will allow customers to choose a custom configuration for Mac computers, a service that Apple has not been able to provide in India so far since its sales have relied on third-party partners. The company will also launch a trade-in program for iPhones within stores and allow users to engrave their iPads, Airpods Pro, Apple Pencil, and AirPods in English, Marathi, Telugu, Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Kannada.
In addition to online stores that will sell products directly to customers, Apple is also interesting to open two physical retail stores in India. The first physical store will open in the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) area of Mumbai, and the second physical (brick-and-mortar) store will open in Bangalore near Minsk Square.
Apple has been actively striving to gain a position in the Indian market. In August, Wistron, a Taiwanese manufacturer of Apple, started the recruitment process for regionally producing twelve iPhone components in India. According to reports, it has hired more than 15,00 locals and is seeking to hire more than 9,000 employees.
The local production of Apple products such as iPhones assures employment for local people and there is no import tax on iPhones. Local production of iPhone second-generation (SE) has started in India by Cupertino’s manufacturing partner Wistron. So far, Apple has produced many iPhone models locally, including iPhone SE (first generation), iPhone XR, iPhone 11, iPhone 6S, and iPhone 7.
Apple will start marketing its products online in the country this year and will open the first Apple-branded store in the country next year. Cook announced at Apple’s annual shareholder meeting in Cupertino in February. He added: I don’t want others to run this brand for us.