Aiming for bigger India pie, Apple eager to serve online

New Delhi: US tech titan Apple on Thursday said it is keen on offering online and in-store experiences to Indian users at par with its global standards and aims to open its maiden retail store in India.

The comments come after the government on Wednesday eased the FDI norms for single-brand retail, offering more flexibility on local sourcing norms. It also did away a provision that required companies to mandatorily set up a brick-and-mortar store before getting into online retail trading.

Welcoming the move, Apple in an e-mail statement said it looks forward to "one day welcoming customers to India's first Apple retail store". Apple, which competes with companies such as OnePlus and Samsung in the premium smartphone category, did not specify the timeline for its plans.

"We love our customers in India and we're eager to serve them online and in-store with the same experience and care that Apple customers around the world enjoy... It will take us some time to get our plans underway and we'll have more to announce at a future date," the statement added.

Sources privy to the development told PTI that the iPhone maker, in all probability, will start selling its devices to Indian users through its own online stores first, and subsequently follow it up with brick-and-mortar stores, a format similar to its global operations.

Industry body India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) has said the relaxation in FDI norms for single-brand retail trade is expected to raise the domestic mobile handset retailing market to global standards as it paves the way for brands like Apple, OnePlus and Oppo to set up their directly-owned stores in the country.

Currently, Apple and some other firms sell in the Indian market through franchise-owned retail stores, apart from the e-commerce channels like Flipkart and Amazon. Apple is reportedly looking at Mumbai to set up its first offline retail store in India.

Apple stores are thronged by tech enthusiasts for the experience they offer and the knowledge of its staff. Recently, Apple had said the Indian market "bounced back" in the June quarter as the company logged strong double-digit growth in the country.

Apple, which announced its third-quarter numbers in July, clocked 1 per cent year-on-year growth in revenue at USD 53.8 billion for the quarter ended June. International sales accounted for 59 per cent of the quarter's topline. The company, however, does not give out country-specific numbers.

The Indian government on Wednesday said online sales will lead to creation of jobs in logistics, digital payments, customer care, training and product skilling.

Some models of iPhones are made in India by Apple's contract manufacturing partner Wistron Corp.

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