Before making its long-expected offline retail presence in India, Apple may start selling the locally produced iPhone SE through its online store in the world’s second most-populous country. According to a report Monday by the Economic Times, Apple may also sell locally sourced accessories via its online store.
However, the report states that the iPhone maker won’t compete on price with online marketplaces for the items carried via its Indian online store. About half the iPhone models the Cupertino firm sells in the country are purchased online.
Apple reportedly plans to differentiate its online store from marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart by offering value-added services, such as laser engraving, to personalize the handset. It may also sell models or variants which are exclusive such as a dedicated model, colour option or storage space, source said.
“The product portfolio will be expanded as Apple grows the local production to other models,” reads the report.
Two senior industry officials said the online store won’t require foreign direct investment approval in retail like physical stores do. That’s because the Indian government now allows companies to directly sell items online as long as they’re manufactured locally.
Another source said Indian online store should come online around Diwali, an official holiday in India and a few other countries that runs in the middle of October. Apple supplier Wistron plans to start assembling of iPhones in Bengaluru by June.
News18.com disagrees, however, cautioning that the store relies on a lot of “ifs and buts.”
According to that publication, there are two reasons as to why the story may not be entirely accurate. “First, Apple iPhone SE was met with lukewarm response in India and it is not Apple’s latest offering. Second, why would Apple launch an online store to just sell one product?”, as per News18.com.
As for the physical stores, Apple could open up to five flagship outlets in India over the next five to ten years, with first offline outlets set to initially open in the metroes.
Apple Online Store currently operates in 39 countries.
Source: Economic Times of India