Apple Inc., maker of iPhones and Mac computers, will set up three of its own retail stores — the iconic Apple Store — in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai within the the next 18 months, a source familiar with the decision told FactorDaily.
Apple will also unveil a start-up accelerator in India, the first such initiative by the company, to incubate ideas mostly around applications built for iOS, the Apple operating system, says a report in the Economic Times. The announcement will be made later this week, when Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook visits India.
Each Apple Store will be spread across 10,000 square feet and will be located at high street locations of the three metros. The stores, for which Apple executives are searching for real estate, will need an investment of $3 million to $5 million (₹20 crore to₹33 crore) each, the source, who has worked with Apple in setting up its stores in the past, said. The source requested anonymity.
In 2014 and 2015, Apple had the highest revenue per square foot of any US retailer, according to a Fortune report. Differentiated by its trademark airy and bright design, products intuitively placed on wooden desks, and well-trained staff, the Apple Store is considered the gold standard in the US both for user experience and sales per outlet.
Unlike in other industries or even among Apple’s competitors, Apple Store staff have fixed salaries and are not compensated by sales commission. A Wall Street Journal story in June, 2011 quoted the APPLE “steps of service” for its staff: “Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome,” “Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs,” “Present a solution for the customer to take home today,” “Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns,” and “End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.”
In India, a team of 40 Apple executives has been working out of a Gurugram (formerly Gurgaon) office for the past few months to put the project together. Mostly expatriates, these employees work with the retail group of Apple and report directly to Apple’s headquarters in California.
A second source close to Apple in India said the company is expected to make an announcement of the accelerator on Tuesday. Apple’s application for government permission for the Apple Store had been made last year and plans on that front were “a matter of routine”.
Apple currently retails through large format electronic stores and exclusive stores it calls Apple Premium Resellers in the country.
Cook, the Apple CEO, is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visits India during the second leg of his Asia tour. Cook is currently touring China.
In the premium smartphone segment (₹30,000 upwards) in India, Apple held the second spot in terms of market share after Samsung in 2015, according to Cybermedia Research. India is one of the fastest growing smartphone markets in the world and Apple is likely to gain from the 51% growth expected in 2016, Cybermedia said.
Cook’s visit and the likely Apple Store announcement comes after the Modi government relaxed rules on local sourcing as a condition for foreign direct investment in single-brand retail in November. Single-brand retailers are those who sell products under their own label.
Apple’s plans to sell refurbished phones in India has so far been met with resistance from the authorities. Refurbished phones are used phones that are certified by Apple and resold much like how the certified used car network functions in India.
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