After an exuberant launch of its first store in Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), Apple is aiming to recreate the same magic in New Delhi’s Saket. The technology major on Wednesday previewed its second store in the nation’s capital.
Cheers erupted when a select group of journalists entered the threshold of the newfangled store, as a team of 70 skilled Apple professionals, clad in green t-shirts, welcomed the very first entrants to its wholly-owned Delhi outlet. This team of 70 – almost 50 per cent of which are women – comes from a combined 18 states in India and collectively speak more than 15 languages.
“We’re thrilled to bring the best of Apple to our customers in Delhi with the opening of our second store in India, Apple Saket,” said Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s senior vice president of Retail. “Our incredible team members look forward to connecting with the local community and helping them find new ways to pursue their passions and unleash their creativity through our amazing products and services.”
What’s in store for Apple
Although not as expansive as its 20,000 square foot Mumbai counterpart, the Saket store, spread across more than 8,400 square feet, welcomes customers through a uniquely designed curved storefront with white oak tables, as well as a feature wall – all manufactured in India – displaying Apple’s products and accessories.
The store, which showcases these display tables and feature walls rife with the latest gadgets and accessories, be it iPhones, Macs, iPads, AirPods, Apple Watches or Apple TVs, is an Apple aficionado’s paradise.
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Like Apple’s 520 other retail stores across the world, Apple Saket’s operations too run on 100 per cent renewable energy and are carbon neutral. The store features a dedicated Apple Pickup station, a service which allows customers to order products online and collect their devices in-store at a convenient time.
For hands-on technical and hardware support, customers can make a reservation at the store’s ‘Genius Bar’ for help from an expert, or ‘Genius’ as they are called. Genius Bar appointments can help with everything from setting up a device, recovering an Apple ID, selecting an AppleCare plan, or modifying subscriptions.
Apple Saket, the Cupertino-based firm says, will be an exciting hub for inspiration and education, offering customers free, daily in-store sessions through ‘Today at Apple’. Led by Apple Creatives, employees who are themselves talented artists and creators, the sessions range from basics and how-to lessons to using professional-grade programs. These sessions will take place in a roundtable setting for a more personalised customer experience.
The store will officially open its doors to customers on Thursday, April 20, at 10:00 a m IST.
A bigger bite of the India pie
The new stores in Mumbai and New Delhi are Apple’s first step in building a larger, more-personalized retail footprint in India, a country where it has been operational for the past 25 years. The company has a workforce of 2,500 employees across the country, including ones that have joined the roster by way of the new stores.
Apple’s market share for smartphones in 2022 stood at 4.6 per cent, with total shipments coming in at 6.7 million for the year, according to data from IDC, a market intelligence platform. Despite being nowhere near the top five overall – which is occupied by the likes of Xiaomi, Samsung, vivo, realme and OPPO – Apple has been on a incremental path towards cutting a bigger piece of the smartphone pie in India.
The firm’s smartphone shipments grew from 2.7 million in 2020, to 4.8 million the next year in 2021, to reach where they are today. Furthermore, Apple remains the top dog in the premium segment, with the average selling price of its devices in 2022 coming in at Rs 74,080, excluding GST.
Data from Counterpoint Research affirms that Apple dominated the segment last year, with a market share of 41 per cent for premium devices. The iPhone 13 became the top selling high-end device during the year.
Much ground, however, remains to be covered. Analysts are of the view that the launch of Apple’s new retail stores will not have a big impact on the firm’s market share in India. The two new stores still pale in comparison to Apple’s larger network of retail partners across the country, including its 100 premium resellers.
“This is more about customer experience,” says Tarun Pathak, Research Director at Counterpoint. “Customers can get a more positive brand experience by visiting these stores, creating a lot of mind share first, which will slowly be converted into market share.”
These stores allow the Cupertino-based giant to exercise complete control over the end-to-end experience for its customers, which was not possible before. The firm is, however, likely to receive stiff competition from players like Samsung, who, Pathak says, has an advantage by way of a new form factor via its foldable and flip series. “We expect a close fight in the premium segment.”
Furthermore, in a market like India where consumers are more accustomed to Android devices, making inroads via iOS has been a lingering point of contention among naysayers.
“It is the other way around. When customers visit the Apple store, there is a possibility that issues like compatibility and ease of usage will be taken care of by Apple employees. Not many people are aware about issues when transitioning from Android to iOS. Apple might be able to address such issues through its new stores now,” Pathak adds.
Apple has been gunning for the top spot in the premium segment for the past three years now, and these stores are likely to give a fillip to this endeavour. With reports of the company now ramping up its manufacturing in India, how it manages to capitalize on these developments remains to be seen.