Apple store goes online, customers not so much

ByNabeel Ahmed

Sep 29, 2020
Apple online store, Apple, India

Though the company launched its online store in India, people are expressing a preference for physical stores over online purchases considering the high prices it charges for its products

On 23 September, Apple online store finally made its debut in the Indian market. The launch of the online store is part of a comprehensive plan where the company seeks to increase its user base both for products as well as services in the country.

This plan includes the launch of products with a lower price range to woo the price-conscious Indian user like the iPhone SE and Apple Watch SE, shifting production of its popular range of iPhone 11 series to India, and opening of physical stores in the country.

The launch of the online store in select cities is a break from a decade-old strategy of the company where it relied on third-party authorised resellers to make products available to local consumers. Made possible by relaxations in the laws governing single-brand stores, this launch comes right before the launch of the iPhone 12 series, expected to be announced in October, and the start of the festive season which generally witnesses a huge spike in sales.

However, whether Apple’s online store will be able to win over consumers in India is yet to be seen. And if past experiences are anything to go by, this will not be an easy task, especially considering that Apple products come with a premium price tag. To get a perspective of how seriously Apple consumers are willing to ditch their third-party resellers in favour of the company’s online store, we talked to a few of them.

“I was looking to purchase the AirPods Pro for some time now, and even though I was aware that Apple had launched their online store, I did not feel comfortable spending 25,000 online without having any prior experience of their delivery system. Besides, I have a good relationship with the local authorised reseller which made going to the store and picking up the AirPods easier for me,” says Haider Jawed.

“The fact the Apple store provides customisations to their products and you can talk to their customer support while ordering from their store can entice more customers, other than that there are not many benefits of the store that can I see. As for physically inspecting the product before purchase, that is something that even third party resellers don’t allow, so unless I get a better deal on the online store or I need to make customisations to my purchase I see no reason to switch to the online store”, says Deeksha Sharma, a journalist based in Mumbai.

Another issue driving consumers away from shopping at Apple’s online store is the lack of options and discounts on different methods of payment. Even though the company is providing easy monthly instalments on the purchase of its products, the higher number of options provided by retailers like Amazon and Flipkart will not be easy to counter.

“I have been using Apple products for quite some time now and I know they are not cheap. This has been the major reason why I have used a physical store to purchase Apple products. To think of ordering a Mac that can cost upwards of 9 lakh online is not something I feel sure about”, says Zaheb Hussain, a lawyer practising in Delhi.

This statement drives home the other problem that is likely to plague the online store — the high pricing of goods and the apprehension of consumers in spending huge amounts on an untried method of delivery.

Even if Apple’s store were to gain the trust of its consumers and somehow manage to log on to the online sales there are still problems that the company needs to address. Most important of these is how it will manage its partner resellers who have spent years establishing a network of physical stores and are reeling under the pressure of a slowdown in sales due to the pandemic and the recession. The company will also have to figure out how it will manage the logistics of speedy delivery, especially in times of the Coronavirus, compared to established e-commerce sites in India.

So, Apple online store may have finally made its long-awaited debut in India but it still has a long way to go in establishing itself as a preferred choice amongst its users.

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