Thursday, October 26, 2017

Angela Ahrendts’s Plan for Apple Retail

Nicole Nguyen (via Ben Lovejoy):

In February 2016, Ahrendts removed the word “store” from the retail naming convention (for example, Apple Store Union Square is now called Apple Union Square) — and at the most recent keynote, she said, “It’s funny, we actually don’t call them ‘stores’ anymore. We call them ‘town squares’ because they’re gathering places for 500 million people who visit us every year.” The phrasing didn’t sit well with critics, who say that a retail store that sells $1,000 iPhones is hardly a space synonymous with civic life, that it’s not actually a public place, and that calling it such is a “pretentious farce.”


“It used to be that 80/20 rule — [malls] would be 80% shopping and 20% experience. It’s got to go the opposite now, because all the shopping you can do faster, cheaper, etc., online,” Ahrendts said in a May 2017 interview with LinkedIn.

By adding communal features (including free Wi-Fi and outdoor tables) and offering classes (that extol the features of Macs and iOS devices), Ahrendts is hoping to persuade customers to spend more time in Apple Stores. Maybe they’ll even want to buy something. You can now go to the Apple Store to learn how to code in a schmancy new theater, or watch a performance by an Apple Music–featured singer-songwriter, or sit under a tree with a Genius to figure out why your iPhone doesn’t charge anymore, or watch as an illustrator doodles live (on, of course, an iPad).


Ahrendts also made a number of refinements to in-store service. Going to the Apple Store “shouldn’t be like going the dentist,” she said. You can now get a text message when someone at the Genius Bar is available, instead of having to wait around. That bar has also been, in some locations, refashioned into an airy “Grove” with additional seating. Updating the Genius area may be the most visible operations work Ahrendts is doing. Getting a broken iPhone, Mac, or iPad serviced remains a frustrating experience for many.

I don’t see anything about increasing the Genius capacity or improving the appointments experience. It’s a nice idea to make people want to spend more time in the stores, but that seems at odds with what seems to be the current reality: stores that are overcrowded and understaffed.

Previously: Apple’s Support Gap.

Update (2017-10-27): Stephen Hackett:

Apple can make it stores as beautiful as they want, but until it can more effectively manage the many, many customers who show up needing support, the stores will still be frustrating.

1 Comment RSS · Twitter

[…] Previously: Angela Ahrendts’s Plan for Apple Retail. […]

Leave a Comment