With this, the maker of iPhones and iPads will become the first foreign company to open its webstore in the country prior to rolling out any company-owned physical outlet, which was a precondition to sell online before the August 2019 relaxations of rules.
India will be the 37th country where Apple will have its own ecommerce site.
“We are so excited about the opportunity to connect with our customers directly in addition to the wonderful network of the reseller that we have in place in India for over 20 years,” Deirdre O’Brien, senior vice president of retail at Apple Inc, told ET on Thursday. “We view it as a wonderful opportunity to further our relationship (with our customers) and create new customers for Apple.”
She said Apple expects its online store to have a “very bright future” but she did not share numbers on what percentage of sales the company expects the webstore to generate.
Apple will not offer any inaugural discounts for purchases through its online store, but shoppers will get some cashbacks, special gift packaging options and equated monthly instalment (EMI) payment options on credit cards. The company for some time would not offer cash-on-delivery options due to the pandemic, but plans to offer the service whenever it would be possible in future, O’Brien said.
“India is a special place and we have incredibly passionate customers here,” O’Brien said in a telephonic interview from California. “The potential is significant.”
Currently, Amazon and Flipkart account for roughly 30% of iPhone sales in India, according to industry officials. The two largest ecommerce players and other authorised platforms will continue to deal in Apple products.
The company said it has tied up with Blue Dart Express for next day delivery in the metro cities and two to three days deliveries for more than 12,000 PIN code areas where the Cupertino-based technology giant will service its online customers in the country.
For years, Apple has been unable to open its own brick-and-mortar outlets and company-run webstore in India due to strict norms for foreign investment in single-brand retailing, which mandated that any single-brand retailer with more than 51% foreign direct investment (FDI) must locally source 30% of the products they sell in the country. The domestic procurement clause deterred high-tech companies from opening their own stores here for years.
In August last year, India amended the rules to include exports and contract manufacturing to be counted as part of the mandatory 30% local sourcing norm for single-brand retailers over a period of five years. This paved the way for the Cupertino-based tech giant to open its stores in the country.
Meanwhile, Apple is planning to open its first own brick-and-mortar store in the country in Mumbai’s Maker Maxity Mall in the Bandra Kurla Complex next year, as ET reported earlier. Currently Apple sells its products through thousands of point of sales run by local resellers.