Local Apple dealers worry that the iPhone maker’s retail venture will hurt their company.
Retailers of Apple products in Mumbai and Delhi, which account for around 20-21% of the brand’s annual sales in the country, fear the launch of stores by the US giant within these cities may dent their business.
In particular, retailers in the vicinity of these outlets, at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai and Saket in Delhi, say consumers will prefer to go to these company-owned stores rather than make it to their outlets to purchase Apple products.
“That is a visible danger for those Apple retailers who are located near these outlets,” a senior executive at Unicorn Infosolutions, an Apple premium reseller in Delhi and Mumbai, said. Unicorn has 37 outlets in the west and north of India and is looking to its increase its footprint to 75 stores in the next three years.
“You have to keep in mind that the base of consumers for Apple is growing, both in Mumbai and Delhi as well as other cities. It will not be feasible for all the consumers to make it to these outlets. Yes, some high-end consumers may choose to shop at these Apple stores in the two cities, but for those staying away from these stores, it will be difficult to make it to these outlets,” the Unicorn executive said, declining to be quoted.
Nilesh Gupta, managing director of Vijay Sales, an electronics retailer, which has stores in the west and north of India, had reiterated a similar point on Tuesday (April 18), the day the Apple BKC store was launched in Mumbai. He said that he saw the store launches in Mumbai and Delhi as an opportunity for brand-building and further growth in sales.
“Apple is launching just two stores in India, one in Mumbai and the other in Delhi, for now. Even if they launch more outlets, not everyone will be able to make it to these stores, given the size of India and the aspirations of people wanting to own an Apple. The word-of-mouth and excitement going around following the launch will positively impact all of us who stock and sell Apple products in the country. I see more consumers wanting to buy Apple products in the future,” Gupta said.
While Apple has been in India for more than 25 years, it has had no direct retail presence in the country until now. An Apple online store in India was launched around three years ago. In other words, say experts, the Cupertino-based tech giant has depended largely on a network of online and offline retailers, including premium resellers, multi-brand operators and e-commerce channels, for sales in India.
“And Apple will want to ensure that its retail partners are not impacted because of its direct retail foray into India,” says Devangshu Dutta, founder and chief executive officer, Third Eyesight, a Gurugram-based retail consultancy.
“The Apple premium resellers, for instance, may choose to upgrade their retail experience at their outlets to ensure that there is no loss of business, especially in Mumbai and Delhi,” Dutta said.
Apart from Unicorn, some of the other Apple premium resellers in India include Maple in Mumbai and Ample Technologies, which runs the Imagine brand of stores in cities such as Bengaluru and Chennai.
Both the Apple stores in Mumbai and Delhi are high on experience, visitors to these outlets have said, coming at a time when the brand, amongst the most valuable in the world, has clocked a record revenue in India.
A Bloomberg report this week said that Apple had reported a turnover of $6 billion in India in FY23, up from $4.1 billion in FY22.
The Apple craze has drawn huge crowds both to the Mumbai and Delhi stores this week. The retail push will come as the company looks to expand manufacturing in India, experts said.
While Apple has been manufacturing older iPhone models in India since 2017, it began assembling the most recent smartphone models in 2022, with the iPhone 14.
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), Apple’s iPhone shipments in India stood at 6.7 million units in 2022 against 4.8 million in 2021 and 2.7 million in 2020.
Apple also captured 25% of the ‘Made in India’ smartphone shipments in terms of value in 2022, compared to 12% in 2021, according to Counterpoint Research.
Among cities, Mumbai accounted for 10% of iPhone sales in India, trailing only Delhi, which accounted for 11% of sales, Counterpoint Research said.