The much anticipated Apple Store is undergoing its final touches and is expected to be ready for inauguration in a couple of days. The flagship store will be the first one to be managed by the company directly, like in many countries worldwide. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook is expected to launch the store along with some of his colleagues from the corporate office in the US.
Located at the Jio World Drive Mall at the financial hub that is Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai, the store is expected to be spread over 12,000 sq ft over two levels and would include the much touted Genius Bar, an open learning centre, a service centre and of course, a dedicated area for curated events.
The store would also have consumer benefits such as trade-in facility with older devices, assisted shopping with an Apple associate who is a specialist, pick the Apple product earlier ordered online and buy Apple Gift Cards. These are the typical services offered at most of the Apple Store globally.
Apple Inc. entered India over two decades back and primarily focussed on distribution of iMac followed by MacBook devices. In 2008, when Apple’s iconic iPhone 1 was launched, there was a tie-up with Vodafone and Airtel where the phone was bundled with the telecom operator, a model followed successfully worldwide by Apple. But then, what works elsewhere doesn’t necessarily work in India and vice-versa.
Within a few months, Apple preferred to sell the device separately without any bundling with the telecoms operators. Thanks to an economic boom in India since 2012, more Indians are buying a lot more Apple products in India, than ever before. Apple, till date distributes its products through two key distributors, Redington and Ingram, who in turn sell the products through Apple Authorised Resellers across India. During the period 2015-18, there were a lot of challenges faced by the brand due to the surge of e-commerce channels, but Apple took a concerted effort to streamline its distribution.
Except for Reliance Digital, which offers deep discounts at the store level, the price of Apple products is almost the same across offline and online channels.
Apple shipped (sold to retailers) nearly 7 mn units in India in 2022, a growth of 16% over the previous year, against the rest of the smartphone industry which saw a drop of 9%. India sold 152 mn mobile phone units in 2022 on the backdrop of the pandemic-hit year. Globally, Apple sold 232 mn iPhones in 2022.
The new store at Mumbai will be followed by another at New Delhi later this year and 1 each at Bangalore and Hyderabad in 2024. No other city is in the retail roadmap for Apple at the moment. Apple Resellers such as iMagine, Uni and large format stores such as Croma will sell Apple products alongside Amazon, Flipkart, etc.