Reliance, which has one of the most attractive iPhone offers in India, will shut 16 of its 20 exclusive iStores as they do not comply with the global store design norms specified by Apple.
The Economic Times reports that failing to comply with the norms could disrupt Apple’s bid to intensify sales efforts in India, where it trails the likes of Samsung, Micromax and others in the smartphone market. Reliance is not the only one forced to shut Apple-centric stores. The report says that 10 more stores will shut down soon for the same reasons.
Reliance will focus instead on promoting and developing Digital Xpress, which is the multi-brand experience and shopping centre already functioning in some Indian cities, in addition to keeping four iStores – Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Kolkata – open and running.
Will something like this work in India?
The new norms dictated standardised design with high ceilings, white LED lighting, wooden floors, specific display tables, among other details. Apple and Reliance have had some issues regarding the way iStores had been opened in the country, according to ET. Apple was not happy with Reliance’s rapid expansion with no regard for the design norms. Reliance regarded this as a highhanded tactic and said it was not feasible.
One source told the paper that “Of the 16 stores, 12 of them did qualify as per the new Apple norms. But the group decided to convert them into Digital Xpress (outlets) since the locations are prime. These stores will also sell Apple products along with all other leading electronic brands.”
Apple’s insistence of having specific norms for store design seems bizarre in a country where it wants to expand to Tier-II and Tier-III cities, where customers won’t exactly be enamoured by how the store looks, but rather by how much the wares inside cost.