Apple’s online store is now here3 min read . Updated: 24 Sep 2020, 06:49 AM IST
- The online store offers options that customers may not get on third-party online stores, serving as a vital cog in Apple’s long-term plans
- Apple accounted for 48% of all phone shipments in the $500-plus segment in India in Apr-Jun
Apple Inc. opened its India online store on Wednesday, allowing the world’s most valuable company to control the experience of shoppers and introduce visitors to a wider portfolio of products.
With its first company-owned physical store in India still some time away, the online store offers options that customers may not get on third-party online stores, serving as a vital cog in Apple’s long-term plans.
However, opinion remains divided on whether the move alone will boost the company’s market share in the short term.
Though Apple’s overall smartphone market share in India is less than 2%, in the premium segments, its relatively affordable products such as iPhone SE (2020), iPhone XR and iPhone 11 have made gains.
According to IDC, Apple accounted for almost half (48%) of all smartphone shipments in the $500-plus price segment in India in the June quarter.
“When buyers come to its online store, they are not looking only at an iPhone but will be exposed to other Apple products, too. We have to look into the benefits that Apple may bring. We can expect Apple to bundle some services with products to make the products more appealing to buyers," said Tarun Pathak, associate director, Counterpoint Research.
Though others agree that the online store will help Apple control the experience of viewing, comparing and purchasing, they don’t think it will have any immediate impact on Apple’s India market share.
“This move reflects the importance of India for Apple in the long term. But there won’t be much impact on volumes. Also, with Apple’s physical stores still some time away, this gives them a good headstart to see what works well and what do consumers respond to when directly serviced by Apple," said Navkendar Singh, research director, client devices and imaging printing and document solution, IDC India.
The online store launch comes amid customer concerns over potential covid-19 infections at retail outlets by touching products that have been already handled by others.
Meanwhile, Apple has seen a higher demand for iPhones on online channels.
“The share of Apple iPhones sold online in the last year has been increasing. In the March quarter, it was 40%, up from 30% a year ago," said Pathak.
However, third-party sellers offer limited choice since they do not sell all models and colours, something the Apple online store can address.
“The online store will allow Apple to list a wide variety of possible SKUs (stock-keeping units) faster to India, which sometimes third-party channels might not be able to carry or showcase. Also, stock availability is a priority to Apple online," said Singh.
Typically, those visiting official websites for research and comparison may prefer to buy directly from the brand. However, in a price-conscious market like India, buyers will scour online stores for the best price and will consider multiple things such as discounts and exchange offers.
For instance, the iPhone SE (2020) is currently listed on Apple’s online store at a starting price of ₹42,500, but on Flipkart.com, it starts at ₹37,900.
“Apple cannot afford to have different pricing for different channels. Price parity has to be maintained. Else, their online store will just become an information portal for intending consumers. Consumers who can buy online won’t pay more to Apple just for the experience," IDC’s Singh said.
According to Faisal Kawoosa, co-founder and chief analyst at techARC, while a brand may launch its own online store, third-party platforms continue to play a very critical role in online sales for any brand.
“We are expecting Apple to do more to set a benchmark with its online experience. This is a new platform and the festive season is around the corner, so we can expect Apple to offer some exclusive offers so people would buy directly from them," said Kawoosa.