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Apple's (AAPL) India Online Store Launch to Add Festive Cheer

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Apple (AAPL - Free Report) is set to launch its first online store for India on Sep 23. The store will sell the company’s complete range of products that include the iPhone line-up, the Mac computing device line-up, the iPad series, Apple AirPods family, HomePod smart speaker and more.

The online store launch is coming right before the festive season of Diwali in India when the demand for electronics sharply increases. This is likely to help Apple tap consumers who have been holding back on non-essential purchases amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Available on Apple.com/in, the online store will be Apple’s first direct retail presence in the country. So far, Apple had been relying on authorized distributors and retailers in India for offline sales as well as on online shopping platforms such as Amazon.in and Flipkart.

According to Apple, all orders will ship with contactless delivery fulfilled by BlueDart within 24 to 72 hours of placing the order.

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Apple’s India Online Store Offering

Not only will customers be able to purchase all Apple products in the online store, but they will also have access to Apple Specialists who can guide users in their purchases as well as provide online support in English and phone support in Hindi and English.

The online store will also offer buyers the ability to custom configure any Mac before purchasing. Alongside the Apple India online store will be the new Education Store, which will offer special discounts and pricing for the iPhone, iPad, Mac and other Apple products to teachers and students.

Additionally, a wide range of payment and financing options will be available to customers. EMI options for credit and debit cards, digital payment on delivery and RuPay cards will be accepted as payment methods.

. However, at this time, Apple is not offering cash on delivery as a payment option because of the contactless delivery requirements due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Further, users will also be able to purchase Apple Care+ online. This extends Apple device warranty with up to 2 years of technical support and accidental damage cover.

Apple also plans to offer sessions focused on photography and music as well as add-ons like gift wraps and custom engraving, likely to make gift giving on Diwali more appealing.

Will Online Store Support Boost iPhone Sales?

Apple’s complete line-up of iPhones, which include the latest generation Apple iPhone SE, Apple iPhone 11, Apple iPhone 11 Pro, Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max and the Apple iPhone XR will be available on the Online Store.

Moreover, Apple will offer a trade-in program for existing iPhones as well as other smartphones on purchase of a new iPhone.

The iPhone-maker has become visibly more aggressive in India in recent years. The company is witnessing favorable market reforms. It has boosted domestic production, courtesy of spike in demand for iPhone 11 and the new SE models.

Per IDC Data for second-quarter 2020, Apple gained 48.8% market share in the premium smartphone segment in India, up from 41.2% a year ago. The upside can be attributed to strong sales of the 2020 edition of the iPhone SE and supply-chain issues faced by competitors like OnePlus.

Lowering the cost of its products especially iPhones is crucial for Apple in India. In July, the company’s contract manufacturing partner Foxconn began assembling the iPhone 11 in India. This was the first time the company was locally assembling a current-generation iPhone model in the country.

Assembling handsets in India enables smartphone vendors — including Apple — to avoid nearly 20% import duty that the India government levies on imported electronics products.

Markedly, the locally-assembled iPhone SE — the cheapest iPhone in India at roughly $578 — could prove to be a formidable rival for the likes of Samsung (SSNLF - Free Report) and OnePlus. Meanwhile, anti-China sentiment on the ground has opened a wider window for Apple.

The online play is perhaps in anticipation of this boom since physical stores are likely to continue seeing less footfall due to the rising coronavirus cases in India.

Moreover, according to the Bloomberg report, Apple will also be opening physical retail locations, starting next year in Mumbai, before opening a second outlet in Bengaluru.

Further, the launch of Apple’s newly announced bundle-subscription pack, Apple One Premier plan, is expected to help the Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company push services adoption and boost service revenues in India against the likes of Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) and Disney (DIS - Free Report) . You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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