KOLKATA: Apple’s iconic offline stores in India is still far away, with the company first planning to set up its own online store by this year piggy-riding on the fact that local manufacturers can have a direct online presence in the country.
Apple will initially start its online store by selling iPhone SE which will be manufactured in India and the product portfolio will be expanded as it grows the local production to other models.
Two senior industry officials said Apple’s online store plans does not require foreign direct investment (FDI) approval in retail since the government allows companies to directly sell online models manufactured locally. The company plans to start assembling of iPhones in Bengaluru by June.
“Apple will initially start its online store by selling iPhone SE which will be manufactured in India and will be in line with government policies. The company is hopeful to start the online store in India around Diwali,” said one of the executive.
It may also sell some accessories which will be sourced from India. For Apple, around 50-55 per cent of the iPhones sold in India is generated from online sales as compared to the smartphone industry average of 30 per cent. Apple will not compete on price with online marketplaces for the products it sells through its own online store.
Instead, Apple plans to differentiate its online store in India from marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart by offering value-added services such as laser engraving to personalise the handset, sell models or variants which are exclusive such as a dedicated model, colour option or storage space, the executive said.
An email sent to Apple did not elicit any response till Sunday press time. Globally, Apple operates its online store in 39 countries including several of them which do not have the company-owned offline stores which is present in about 20 countries.
The brick-and-mortar Apple Stores in India will be limited in number and the company is looking at 4-5 such flagship outlets over the next 5-10 years. This is due to the fact that such stores require huge space to suit its architectural design and comes up over iconic locations which are far and few. The offline Apple Stores will initially come up in the metroes.
Apple’s local assembling will start with the iPhone SE through Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron’s facility in Bengaluru. The company has plans to scale it up to few other iPhone models and is also open to start with its other global partner Foxconn which is already operating couple of plants in the country.
There are plans to set up a full-fledged manufacturing operation in the country including its component manufacturer base and has sought tax exemptions from the government for that. The government is yet to give its approvals on the concessions sought.