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Apple sets festive tone with date for much-anticipated India online store

  • September 18, 2020

MacBook enthusiast Palash Samanta in Bengaluru bought a new 16-inch Mac from Amazon India last December. His shiny new machine has performed beyond his expectations and he is a contented consumer. But not being allowed to configure his work station the way he wants to has left him frustrated.

Thousands of other Indian consumers like Samanta have had to settle for Apple’s predetermined configurations because the technology giant has kept many of its key services away from the local market for years. But that’s set to change.

Apple is ready with its entire bouquet of services and offerings for consumers in India through its much-anticipated online store from next week. From one-on-one expert support and finance schemes to customization of its popular MacBook and special discounts for students, local consumers will finally be like American consumers from September 23 on.

The formal announcement came in the form of chief executive Tim Cook revealing Apple’s plans in a tweet. “We know how important it is for our customers to stay in touch with those they love and the world around them. We can’t wait to connect with our customers and expand support in India with the Apple Store online”, he wrote.

In its statement, the company highlighted how significant the online store could be. It will be “offering Apple’s full range of products and support directly to customers across the country for the first time. The new online store will provide customers with the same premium experience found in Apple store locations around the world. The Apple Store online is the most convenient destination to shop for Apple products, with online Apple specialists available to help with anything from custom-configuring any Mac to setting up new devices”, it said.

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According to sources, the local unit has already chalked out plans to lure consumers with special offers and schemes, matching the likes of Amazon and Flipkart. A team of software engineers and support staff are working to ensure a seamless experience.

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To match the e-commerce giants, Apple will be offering easy payment options through credit and debit cards, credit card EMIs, RuPay, UPI, net banking and credit card on delivery.

Exchange options for iPhones, tailor-made solutions for new Macs like additional memory (RAM), storage (SSD) or graphics card and free contact-less delivery are being worked out. Further, the new iPads, Apple watches and the Apple One subscription service, unveiled on Tuesday, will be rolled out in India soon after the store launch.

While a range of physical stores is in the pipeline, it is the online store, given India’s size, that will be the most crucial channel. “Apple is already banking on the market for future growth and this online store will be very important for Apple’s growth in India over the next decade. Now, it can not only offer its full range, but controlling the supply and gauging demand will become easier”, said Navkendar Singh, research director, IDC.

Further, options such as the customization of products through engraving in the seven most-spoken regional languages, namely Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Tamil, Marathi, Kannada and Telugu, will further bump up the localisation factor. In fact, the store is being developed based on design themes depicted in Indian scriptures.

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Samanta now wishes he had waited a few more months. “Since I heard about the announcement, I’ve been excited about trying out the custom configuration options on a MacBook. But I might end up buying one for my daughter and at least she will be able to benefit from the service,” he said.

The timing of the launch might have been too late for Samanta but otherwise it could not have been better, said experts. With the Covid-19 pandemic further pushing consumers towards online purchases, the share of e-commerce channels in smartphones has grown to over 45 per cent.

For notebooks, its share ranges between 15-25 per cent, up from a single digit two years ago.

Sources familiar with the development said the online store will be the foundation for Apple’s physical store launch in India, scheduled for 2021. The company is working on two sites in Mumbai and Bengaluru.

But, given the flagship nature of the Apple Stores, their numbers will be limited. Inevitably, it’s the online channel that will be the backbone.

Article source: https://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/apple-sets-festive-tone-with-date-for-much-anticipated-india-online-store-120091801614_1.html

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