Apple Store Online decoded: Why iPhone maker’s first online retail store in India is a big deal

By: |
September 18, 2020 4:24 PM

Apple Store Online, when it goes live on September 23, will serve as a one stop shop for all things Apple in India and that is why it is such a big deal.

Apple Store OnlineApple's online store is arriving just in time for India's festive season.

Apple has been operating in India for over two decades now, but it was only in 2020 that Apple finally arrived in India. Even as Cupertino prepares to launch its first online retail store – which is also its first direct retail presence — in the world’s second largest smartphone market come September 23, Apple fans and enthusiasts here couldn’t be more excited. The launch would have happened sooner if it were not for the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, but Apple’s online store is still arriving just in time for India’s festive season. Just in time.

It’s a big deal, one that Apple will also be possibly counting on, especially after the rock-solid start it has had in the Indian market this year leading into D-day. It could be one of the reasons why Apple pushed for it in the first place. Potential.

Despite the looming coronavirus scare, that brought the whole industry to a grinding halt – the situation is improving slowly and steadily now — Apple saw a 78 per cent year-on-year (YoY) “growth” in iPhone sales in India in the first quarter of 2020, according to Counterpoint Research. As per data released by IDC, another popular analysis firm, Apple “gained” 48.8% market share in India’s premium smartphone segment in the second quarter of 2020 – up from 41.2% last year. With the impending launch of its online store, Apple will be looking to continue the momentum, even boost it further even as it sees sales dip in its home market, by reaching out “directly” to its customers.

Also Read Apple Store Online will launch in India on September 23 bringing full range of products and support “directly” to customers

Direct is the keyword here because this will be the first time, customers in India will be able to buy directly from Apple, instead of third-party authorised resellers and e-commerce stores like Flipkart and Amazon. Apple says it will offer the full range of first-party products from iPhones to Mac computers at launch with third-party accessories expected to be available shortly thereafter. But more importantly, this will be the first time, Apple will provide support – both pre and after-sale – directly to customers in India and this will all be localized for the Indian market.

Apple Store OnlineApple Store Online will launch in India on September 23.

Apple Stores around the world are revered for their “town-square” experience. Some of them have won awards for their stellar design. Its online stores are no different with Apple virtually hand-holding customers through the whole process of choosing, buying, and setting up a new Apple product. Apple is promising the “same experience found in Apple Store locations around the world, delivered by online team members who are ready to offer their expertise,” in India as well.

More specifically, Apple Store Online will allow customers in India:

  • To buy Apple’s full range of products from iPhone to Mac, from AirPods to HomePod speakers, from iPad to Apple Watch, and more, directly from Apple.
  • MacBook and Mac PC buyers will be able to configure-to-order (CTO) or build-to-order (BTO).
  • Take advantage of Apple’s trade-in program and financing options.
  • Students and teachers will be able to take advantage of education discount on products like iPads.
  • Value added serves like signature gift wrap and personalised engraving will be available for select products.
  • Get complete access to Apple Care+ extended warranty and technical support plans.

Other key highlights of Apple Store Online:

  • Apple says all orders made through its online store will ship with contactless delivery within 24 to 72 hours of placing an order. Deliveries will be fulfilled by BlueDart.
  • Both UPI and cash on delivery (COD) payment options will be available though the latter is currently unavailable as a precautionary measure in wake of COVID-19. That’s in addition to debit and credit card payments, and EMIs.
  • Apple will offer advice and guidance about products in English and Hindi to customers. For instance, Apple specialists will help a customer set up a new iPhone, or provide relevant information on how to custom configure a Mac, so on and so forth.

Also Read Apple iPhone SE 2020 is now made in India

Apple is largely seen as an offline brand in India because of the distinct premium it demands from customers. As such customers prefer experiencing its products in person before making an investment rather than relying on online channels. Apple “authorised” resellers also offer a sense of assurance, a mirage if you will, of interacting with Apple, even though it is indirect. Online portals like Flipkart and Amazon India may sell iPhones and other Apple products with attractive discounts from time to time, but there is also the issue of availability. There are never enough iPhones, especially the more mainstream iPhones like the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR or even the AirPods Pro for that matter to buy when you need them even as products from much lower price segments continue to remain available almost all the time.

Apple Store Online, when it goes live on September 23, will serve as a one stop shop for all things Apple in India and that is why it is such a big deal. Services like AppleCare+, localised support through call or chat, and shopping assistance are just an icing on the cake.

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