Apple to launch online sales in India this week after years of setbacks

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Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has tried to expand its presence in India over the past decade, but has faced many setbacks related to local regulations. In 2012, India’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion relaxed the rules on foreign ownership of single-brand retail stores, even though companies still had to meet local sourcing requirements. The company has since invested heavily in the world’s second most populous country, shifting some iPhone production as it diversifies its supply chain outside of China.

It looked like Apple would finally launch direct sales last year after the Indian government changed its local sourcing requirements, but there was still work to be done. Finally, Apple announced that its online store in India will be launched this week.

Image source: Apple.

Eliminate intermediaries

The Cupertino tech giant will open its digital doors on Wednesday 23 September for the first time in India. All products will be available to Indian consumers. Until now, almost all of Apple’s business in India has been conducted through third-party resellers and other distribution channels, presenting unique challenges for a company known to want to control all of it. customer experience. Apple is partnering with Blue Dart, a local logistics and courier service, for free shipping and contactless delivery.

“We are proud to be expanding in India and we want to do all we can to support our customers and their communities,” Retail and Human Resources Director Deirdre O’Brien said in a statement. “We know our users rely on technology to stay connected, engage in learning and tap into their creativity, and by bringing the Apple Store online in India, we are bringing the best of Apple to our customers. this important moment. ”

In an interview with L’Indian ExpressO’Brien added that the latest Apple and iPad watches unveiled last week would also be available. ” [W]We have been working in India for some time with our network of reseller partners and so we really have a good understanding of doing business in India and we are really benefiting from it, ”O’Brien said at the local outlet.

Brick and mortar will come next year

Apple is not yet ready to open a physical retail store. At the company’s annual shareholders meeting earlier this year, CEO Tim Cook confirmed that the first physical Apple Store in India is expected to open in 2021. Reaffirming Apple’s preference for control, Cook told the time that he “didn’t want anyone else to do it. run the brand for us ”and that Apple likes to“ do it our way ”.

The annual meeting was held in February and since then the COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed physical retail, so there is no rush to move into the real world.

A difficult market to crack

In addition to the hurdles to retail and distribution, Apple has long struggled to gain a foothold in India due to its high prices. In early 2019, Cook provided the first revenue disclosure in India: Apple generated $ 2 billion in sales in 2018, just 0.7% of revenue that year. The company has not provided any significant updates since.

India is now the world’s second largest smartphone market behind China, but most consumers cannot afford iPhones. Apple was able to increase its iPhone shipments to India by 80% in the first quarter, albeit on a limited basis. But Indian smartphone volumes in the second quarter were halved by the coronavirus outbreak. Apple still has a long way to go before sales in India are significant, but the launch of online sales is a step in the right direction.



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