Local Macintosh and iPod aficionados will soon be able to buy from an online Apple store, leading a retailer to suggest that stores will need to undercut Apple’s website pricing.
Apple hopes the local store will be online by the end of the month. Bronwyn Sinclair, Apple marketing manager at local distributor Renaissance, says the store will offer the entire Apple range but won’t initially include built-to-order options or third party products.
Sinclair says Apple doesn’t know how much business it will do through the online store. “To be honest, we haven’t put a target on it initially. We know that a lot of people visit our website to look at our options.”
The company hasn’t received any “major complaints” from existing retailers, she says. “Quite a lot of them understand that people go and have a look at what’s available, and will then buy through the channel.”
Murray Wood, the managing director of Apple retailer MagnumMac, says he’s resigned to the online Apple store.
“We’ve basically got no choice,” he says. “We have got to put up with it because Apple has said every country will have a store.”
Wood believes Apple’s store will probably list products at standard retail price, prompting local retailers to drop their prices a small amount, although he says current margins of about 8% make it difficult to discount heavily. He expects purchasers to continue to shop for the best price. “I think New Zealand customers by their very nature ring around and get prices,” he says.
Retailers will also offer a higher level of after-sales service, Wood says. If a machine is brought in for service, MagnumMac will often lend the customer a machine and even move their data onto the loaner, he says.
“We won’t do that with a grey market [computer] or one bought from somewhere else,” he says.
Apple has promised that retailers won’t be disadvantaged in supply of stock or built-to-order computers, Wood says. If the website encourages sales then he’ll be happy.
“Anything that drives Apple business here, we’ll get a percentage of that anyway.”
Because Apple computers are distributed in New Zealand by Renaissance, rather than an Apple branch office, the New Zealand store won’t use the same software as other Apple stores. Sinclair says the local store is being developed by another Renaissance subsidiary, Conduit International.
Apple’s latest product, the iPod mini, is expected to arrive in New Zealand next month.