Apple on Friday said it will launch its online store in India next week, offering its full range of products to customers across the country for the first time, a move that will help the tech giant cash in on the festive demand.
The new online store, which will be launched on September 23, will provide customers with the same premium experience found in Apple Store locations around the world, delivered by online team members who are ready to offer their expertise, Apple said in a statement.
In February, Apple CEO Tim Cook had said the company will launch its online store in India later this year, while its first physical retail store will open in the country in 2021.
"We know our users are relying on technology to stay connected, engage in learning, and tap into their creativity, and by bringing the Apple Store online to India, we are offering our customers the very best of Apple at this important time," Apple senior vice president of Retail + People Deirdre O'Brien said.
Apple currently sells its products in India through third-party sellers and online marketplaces like Flipkart and Amazon. In a major push to single-brand retail, the government had last year relaxed foreign direct investment (FDI) guidelines, offering players more flexibility on local sourcing norms.
It had also done away with a provision that required companies to mandatorily set up a brick-and-mortar store before getting into online retail trading. Following the government's move, Apple had said it was keen on offering online and in-store experiences to Indian users at par with its global standards.
The Apple Store online will allow people to shop for Apple products, with online Apple specialists available to help with services like custom-configuring Macs to setting up new devices.
Customers can get advice, receive guidance, and learn about new products directly from Apple, both in English and Hindi, the statement said.
The online store will also offer financing options and trade-in programmes. All orders from the Apple Store online will ship with contactless delivery, the statement said.
Orders that do not require a signature will be left at the customer's door, and those that do will need only a verbal confirmation from a safe distance instead of a written signature, it added.
Apple has been operating in India for over 20 years, and the company's ongoing investment and innovation support almost 9 lakh jobs across the country, the company said.
The company's App Design and Development Accelerator in Bengaluru has supported thousands of local developers.
One of the apps -- Wysa -- is an artificial intelligence-based app that helps users get mental wellness support in an affordable and accessible way, while YogiFi uses computer vision for real-time posture correction and machine learning to curate personalised yoga plans.
Apple, which competes in the premium smartphone segment in India with players like Samsung and OnePlus, has been aggressively ramping up its presence in the Indian market. The US-based company, in collaboration with partners like Wistron and Foxconn, recently started assembling iPhone 11 in India.
The iPhone 11 -- being assembled at Foxconn's facility in Tamil Nadu -- is the fifth model of the phone that Apple has started assembling in India (others being iPhone 7, XR, 6S and SE).
According to Counterpoint Research, India's smartphone shipments in the premium segment (priced above Rs 30,000) declined 32 per cent year-on-year to over 1 million in the June 2020 quarter on account of disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the fall, it was one of the least affected segments and reached its highest-ever share in the overall India smartphone market, contributing more than 4 per cent in total smartphone shipments, as per Counterpoint.