NEW DELHI: U.S. technology giant Apple’s first online shopping platform in India will go live on September 23rd, the company reported. This is the first time that the company has launching its first retail channel in the country. To date, Apple has sold products in India through e-commerce and offline partners.
“One thing we’ve learned is when we enter the market with Apple Retail, all boats rise,” said Deirdre O’Brien, Senior Vice President of Retail and People at Apple. “It creates tremendous interest in our products, which are available on our online store and through our network of trusted resellers, allowing us to connect with our customers where they are. As of today Apple Store Online is selling a wide range of Apple products,” she added.
In addition to the full range of Apple products, the online store will also have the local contact centre — which offers help and services to Indian customers — for the first time. The company also announced a dedicated india ’s education Store offering special pricing on Mac computers, iPad tablets, their accessories and Apple’s premium support option, AppleCare Plus.
At the moment, the store will only have products from Apple, but third party accessories can be included in the future. The organisation has also integrated UPI and cash on delivery (COD) payment options, among others.
Apple’s online store in India has been expected since last year, when the Indian government relaxed its local sourcing requirements for companies like Apple. CEO Tim Cook confirmed the launch during an earnings call earlier this year, but the pandemic postponed Apple’s plans by a few months. With the launch next week, the business will be ready for a festive sale in the country.
According to industry estimates, Apple’s market share in the Indian smartphone market remains at about 2%, but the company has made headway in India over the last few quarters. Data from the International Data Company (IDC) reveals that Apple gained 48.8 per cent market share in India’s premium segment in the quarter ended June 2020, up from 41.2 per cent a year ago.
Experts attribute this increase to strong sales of the iPhone SE 2020 version and supply chain challenges faced by competitors like OnePlus. According to Navkendar Singh, research director at IDC, the contribution of e-commerce to the selling of electronics in India currently stands at 42 to 45 per cent per year.
Singh said that though Apple still depends a lot on offline sales due to its premium pricing, the company needs to do better online too. He pointed out that most of Apple’s online sales are mostly dependent on Flipkart and Amazon, who get “much larger volumes” from lower price segments, led by Chinese companies like Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo.
The retail store will help Apple get around certain hurdles, like ensuring the availability of its full range of products and accessories, which a partner might not be able or willing to carry. It also helps the company control the consumer experience to a largerextent. “In the absence of physical retail, this can be a big factor. Anyway Apple is known for its shopping experience,” said Singh.
To that end, the web store would allow consumers to select custom setups for Mac computers, a service that Apple has not yet been able to provide in India because its sales relied on third party partners. The company will also launch a business-in programme for iPhones with the store and allow users to engrave their iPads, Apple Pencil, Airpods and Airpods Pro in Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, Kannada and English.