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Etailers bet big on Apple iPhones; steep discounts and deals expected to drive festive season sales surge

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There is something about the Apple iPhone in Indian e-commerce. While initially the iPhone was a way to make the big occasion sales popular, even almost a decade later marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart are still heavily dependent on the iPhone as their “hero” product for the upcoming festive season sales which begins this weekend.

Trackers and industry executives said there will be maximum discounts on iPhone 12-14 series by online sellers and such offers will be heavily promoted by the marketplaces, whereby the e-commerce contribution to iPhone sales will surge from around 40% to 50-55% during the festive season. Such high sales of iPhones boost the sales value of the marketplaces, increase traffic manifolds, help them to increase their average ticket sizes and build their brand.

In 2020 and 2021, online discounts on iPhones had either vanished or drastically come down as Apple, like every other electronic manufacturer, was grappling with Covid-led supply chain disruptions amid high demand. Discounts on iPhones returned in 2022, but this time around they will be steeper as the marketplaces and their sellers want to grow their business in double digit.

“Online discounting on older iPhone models will be steeper than last year,” said Tarun Pathak, research director at market tracker Counterpoint Research. “Apple has a wide iPhone portfolio and the older models can be discounted steeply during the sale. This will help the marketplaces to increase consumer stickiness and drive some high ticket transactions since Indian consumers don’t tend to buy online when transaction value is more than Rs 50,000-60,000,” he said.

Apple’s iPhone 12 is going to be priced at Rs 38,999 as compared to current price of Rs 48,999 in Flipkart and the marketplace is already promoting lowest ever price on last year’s iPhone 14 and 14 Plus models. Amazon too is likely to offer low prices on iPhone 13 and 14 series, industry executives said.

The Android competition too is waiting to wage a price war. Samsung on Thursday announced price drops by up to Rs 25,000 on premium models like Galaxy S22 and S21 FE. The company is offering as much as 45% discount on older foldable models. OnePlus is gearing up to launch its first foldable smartphone.Emails sent to Amazon, Flipkart and Apple remained unanswered till Thursday press time.Navkendar Singh, associate vice president of market researcher IDC India, said deals on iPhones helps marketplaces to attract eyeballs and ride the premiumisation wave. “Apart from low prices, there will be steep exchange offers and EMIs. Such deals become an easy entry point for a lot of new iPhone consumers which is still an aspirational product in India,” he said.

Also, there is limited backlash from offline retail lobbies on online iPhone discounting since Apple does not sell through every shop unlike Samsung, Xiaomi or Oppo.

Further Apple and its distributors have maintained that it will comply with Indian laws and rules such as Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act and Consumer Protection Act which do not allow companies to directly control selling prices beyond stating its maximum retail price.

In a survey conducted by Counterpoint Research in October, 42% respondents said they plan to purchase a premium smartphone (Rs 30,000 and above), with most users preferring online channels over retail stores. IDC India expects at least a 30-40% growth in iPhone shipments by the end of the year driven by strong sales during the festive season. Apple has already shipped over 4 million units in India in the first half of the year, and is expected to easily beat last year’s record 6 million shipments.

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