Apple retail head Ahrendts talks demise of retail, 'human business' at Cannes Lions

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Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts spoke at the ongoing Cannes Lions festival in France on Wednesday, interviewed by the company's own VP of marketing communications, Tor Myhren.

Angela Ahrendts at Cannes


"The smart outside guys, they don't say retail's dying," Ahrendts said during one part of the interview. "They say digital's going to grow at three times the rate of physical. But in the next five years...75 percent of the people will shop online -- shop -- but 75 percent of the business will still be done in physical stores.

Some really interesting insight on the future of retail from Apple's @AngelaAhrendts!

For more expert insights and sign up for a #CannesLions Digital Pass, available here https://t.co/VB1kN9uzpt pic.twitter.com/AsBKbSURe2

— Cannes Lions (@Cannes_Lions)


"And so retail's not going away, retail's not dying," said Ahrendts. "But it has to evolve, it has to continue to move. And I think it has to serve a bigger purpose than just selling."

Apple has bucked the trend set by other large U.S. retailers, many of which have had to close stores when faced with the onslaught of online-based vendors like Amazon, or simply a switch to online orders at their own websites. The company now has over 500 locations worldwide.

Under her tenure, Ahrendts has tried to further the draw of Apple retail by expanding in-store workshops and special events under the "Today at Apple" brand. The former Burberry CEO has even tried to rechristen the stores as "town squares" with a greater social purpose than just capitalism, though in recent months the company has made little mention of that label.

"Apple's DNA is Creativity, but..." @AngelaAhrendts on stage at #CannesLions talking about the DNA of @Apple!

For more great insights, sign up for a #CannesLions Digital Pass, available here https://t.co/VB1kN9uzpt pic.twitter.com/Uek13M77FN

— Cannes Lions (@Cannes_Lions)


At Cannes, Ahrendts likewise brought up Apple's famous concept of merging technology and the liberal arts, suggesting that the company may be in "the human business" with the obligation to "humanize technology."

One example of this may be its long-running Apple Camp workshops for kids, which just recently opened up 2018 reservations. The program teaches basic artistic and technological concepts while exposing kids to Apple's product line.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    She is absolutely right!
    People like my Mom & Pop really don’t like online shopping.
    They want to use a product before buying one. That’s why I trust Craigslist more than eBay or Amazon.
  • Reply 2 of 23
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,499member
    She is absolutely right!
    People like my Mom & Pop really don’t like online shopping.
    They want to use a product before buying one. That’s why I trust Craigslist more than eBay or Amazon.
    There are certain things I like buying online because I know exactly what I'm getting and then there are things that I want to see in person before buying. Clothes are a good example. All places have different sizes so a medium in one store is different from another store where maybe you need a small, or a large in that store. This is annoying when shopping online because obviously you can't try it on before buying and I don't want to screw around with returning items. Shoes are another thing for the same reason. Also, some things don't look the same in person as they do online as you're either looking at a rendering of the item(s), or sometimes its just a shitty photo someone took.

    I think retail still has a valid presence and if stores like JCP, Macy's, Target, etc can just get their act together and keep up with the times they'll be alright in the long run. The weakest links will die off such as Sears, BonTon, Toys R Us, maybe even JCP.

    And, yes depending what it is, I like using the product before buying it. Again, I don't want to deal with returning something even as easy as it is with places like Amazon.

    On the Apple Retail front...I hope Apple continues to expand their existing stores meaning, moving their stores into larger spaces. They're getting a little too crowded and now they've started this thing where they line people up that are waiting for the Genius Bar around IN FRONT of all of the products. So when go in, everyone is standing in front of everything around the outside walls (which is where all of the Macs are in my local Apple Store) so I can't use anything. It's incredibly annoying and IMO, totally defeats the purpose of the store. Sometimes I think Apple should just have a store next to the retail store that is just for Genius Bar appointments. Probably not the most financially sound idea, but it would at least eliminate the over crowdedness of their stores. Apple has the exact opposite issue of most other retail stores today and it needs to figure out how to solve it. Sometimes it gets to the point where its not even worth going in.
    edited June 20 fotoformatargonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 23
    I think she's a great addition to the Apple team. The look of the stores gets better and better. I love the use of trees and plants inside the store. 

    Best
    jony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 23
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 714member
    Some of the unfortunate retail deaths are because of greed on the part of investor groups. This is what happened to Toys R Us. They were attractive because they were very profitable and well run, but severely undervalued which got them snapped up by an investor group. The group then repackaged them and took out massive loans to extract the hidden value and saddled the company with tons of debt and unmanageable rates. They when from profitable to losing money as soon as these notes became due. Even bankruptcy couldn’t save them because the debt was unserviceable. 

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 23
    asciiascii Posts: 5,776member
    At my local supermarket, there is often a big queue for the automated checkouts, while the human staffed checkouts have no one wanting to use them, they literally have to go on the PA system and ask (beg it sounds like sometimes) people to please use the human cashiers. 

    Online shopping vs staffed stores ("human business") is actually a false alternative. There is a third option: physical-but-automated stores. Best of both worlds?
    edited June 20 monstrosity
  • Reply 6 of 23
    fotoformatfotoformat Posts: 279member
    macxpress said:
    She is absolutely right!
    People like my Mom & Pop really don’t like online shopping.
    They want to use a product before buying one. That’s why I trust Craigslist more than eBay or Amazon.
    Snip /
    I think retail still has a valid presence and if stores like JCP, Macy's, Target, etc can just get their act together and keep up with the times they'll be alright in the long run. The weakest links will die off such as Sears, BonTon, Toys R Us, maybe even JCP.
    / Snip

    Although I gave you an uptick for your thoughts, I should relate that on my first visit to the USA and Canada I happened to visit the Macy's store at Twelve Oaks Mall, Novi, Michigan, and found it almost empty, with few staff on hand to actually check-out my purchase of extra warm thermal headwear (my week in Farmington Hills and on Lake Manistee was freezing in early April, unlike here in central France!). However, in the same mall was a smallish Apple store (I say smallish because it was the first one I had ever seen) and it was packed to bursting... I lost count at sixty people, what with the circulating and demos going on and the 'buzz' being created, but there could have been upwards of one hundred in there. I doubt if all the other stores in that quite extensive mall, in a quite affluent area just north-west of Detroit, had that many customers in total. So as you say... much of retail has to get it's act together!
    edited June 20 argonautjony0
  • Reply 7 of 23
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,506member
    These publicity events must be thought of in terms of positioning for the CEO spot at Apple. This is the way top level executives compete with each other. 

    The other person i see I see as being positioned to succeed Cook is Jeff Williams, but he’s less aggressive than Angela who was already CEO of Burberry.
  • Reply 8 of 23
    georgie01georgie01 Posts: 162member
    While it’s fine to predict trends, I’m never impressed in the technology industry to hear people say ‘<This> is what’s we’re going to see in <this many> years’.

    Predictions are wrong often enough because technology changes, gets delayed, and usage habits can be unpredictable. But more importantly, culture doesn’t always stay on the same track. Any intelligent person who isn’t in denial of history can look back and predict with a high degree of accuracy that even our current cultural trends toward technology are likely to pass entirely. We tend to believe that we are on the right track now and believe we are so advanced and it’ll just move forward indefinitely, but that’s what many civilisations in the past were convinced about as well. We blind ourselves to the downsides until we’ve had enough of them and then can no longer ignore them.

    We may be continuing to lean toward online shopping but maybe people will tire of the heavy social disconnection technology brings and will desire (or be prescribed) more in-person interaction and relationships.
  • Reply 9 of 23
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,463member

    <One example of this may be its long-running Apple Camp workshops for kids, which just recently opened up 2018 reservations. The program teaches basic artistic and technological concepts while exposing kids to Apple's product line.>
    Just taking this point for a moment, I'm curious given Microsoft seemed to have copied the Apple Stores as closely as possible with their stores, do they further copy Apple and do all this too? Also, do we know how are they doing financially?  


  • Reply 10 of 23
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,506member
    genovelle said:
    Some of the unfortunate retail deaths are because of greed on the part of investor groups. This is what happened to Toys R Us. They were attractive because they were very profitable and well run, but severely undervalued which got them snapped up by an investor group. The group then repackaged them and took out massive loans to extract the hidden value and saddled the company with tons of debt and unmanageable rates. They when from profitable to losing money as soon as these notes became due. Even bankruptcy couldn’t save them because the debt was unserviceable. 

    This is just one of many horror stories from Wallstreet.  I actually work for a company that cameunder the influence of idiot investors, bad management and a total lack of business sense.    It is down right disgusting and very frustrating for long term employees. 

    While im extremely frustrated with Apple right now i hope they never come under the influence of these idiot investors.    Some of those investors are nothing but thieves. 
  • Reply 11 of 23
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 2,995member
    I don’t understand why people hate this woman so much. I like the store redesigns and I’ve never had an issue when shopping or getting service at an Apple store.
  • Reply 12 of 23
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 2,995member
    These publicity events must be thought of in terms of positioning for the CEO spot at Apple. This is the way top level executives compete with each other. 

    The other person i see I see as being positioned to succeed Cook is Jeff Williams, but he’s less aggressive than Angela who was already CEO of Burberry.
    Well Jony Ive was interviewed at this event a couple years ago and I don’t ever see him being CEO. If I had to rank internal candidates it would be:

    Williams
    Schiller
    Cue
    Ahrendts (maybe she would be moved up because she has CEO experience but I still think the board would choose someone with a technology or operations background).
  • Reply 13 of 23
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,638member
    She is absolutely right!
    People like my Mom & Pop really don’t like online shopping.
    They want to use a product before buying one. That’s why I trust Craigslist more than eBay or Amazon.
    Try making a return to a Craigslist seller. Also try not to get mugged while attempting to make an in person transaction.
    fastasleep
  • Reply 14 of 23
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,184member
    OMG, Jay Leno with a ponytail!
  • Reply 15 of 23
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,184member
    I think she's a great addition to the Apple team. The look of the stores gets better and better. I love the use of trees and plants inside the store. 

    Best
    Hate the noise level. Probably a guerilla marketing initiative to get people to buy AirPods with new “loud restaurant” feature in order to hear what Apple Store employee is saying to them. 
  • Reply 16 of 23
    genovelle said:
    Some of the unfortunate retail deaths are because of greed on the part of investor groups. This is what happened to Toys R Us. They were attractive because they were very profitable and well run, but severely undervalued which got them snapped up by an investor group. The group then repackaged them and took out massive loans to extract the hidden value and saddled the company with tons of debt and unmanageable rates. They when from profitable to losing money as soon as these notes became due. Even bankruptcy couldn’t save them because the debt was unserviceable. 

    I agree.  What was especially bad about the Toys R Us fiasco was that these greedy investors thought oh, Toys R Us is "wasting" so much money, we can make them way more "efficient" and thus increase our profits even further!  So they proceeded to take away everything that made the stores special and unique, all in the name of cutting costs, and ran them into the ground.  Before the end, you couldn't find a staff member to help you to save your life, and many of the shelves were literally BARE.  In their greed to eek out even more profit from an already profitable company, they ended up just completely destroying it altogether.  
  • Reply 17 of 23

    ascii said:
    At my local supermarket, there is often a big queue for the automated checkouts, while the human staffed checkouts have no one wanting to use them, they literally have to go on the PA system and ask (beg it sounds like sometimes) people to please use the human cashiers. 

    Online shopping vs staffed stores ("human business") is actually a false alternative. There is a third option: physical-but-automated stores. Best of both worlds?
    Wow, I'm shocked to hear you say this.  In what country is this?  In Canada, literally the opposite is true.  Everyone absolutely hates those self-serve checkouts, and complaining about them is as popular as complaining about the weather.  Even though there is literally NO LINE at all for the self-serve kiosks, and MASSIVE lines for the few human-run checkout lines, most people would gladly wait much longer rather than get out right away and have to deal with those things.  They have staff literally begging the people in line to come to the self-serve checkouts, proclaiming that it will be much much faster and they won't have to wait.  Sometimes there are even promotions where they can get discounts or free stuff, gift cards etc.  Hardly anyone will budge though.  Those self-serve kiosks are truly despised here.
    JosephAU
  • Reply 18 of 23
    genovelle said:
    Some of the unfortunate retail deaths are because of greed on the part of investor groups. This is what happened to Toys R Us. They were attractive because they were very profitable and well run, but severely undervalued which got them snapped up by an investor group. The group then repackaged them and took out massive loans to extract the hidden value and saddled the company with tons of debt and unmanageable rates. They when from profitable to losing money as soon as these notes became due. Even bankruptcy couldn’t save them because the debt was unserviceable. 

    Excellent analysis. That's exactly what happened. Our Congress has become a 'concierge' for big business. Sad!
  • Reply 19 of 23
    claire1claire1 Posts: 194unconfirmed, member
    With Amazon stealing the iPhone design to release an "iPhone killer" and stealing the idea of Siri for Echo devices it blows my mind Apple hasn't developed a default "Shop" app.

    This would work like iTunes with corporate and small businesses selling their products with Apple getting a small cut per sale. You can shop by store like Macy's, Sears, etc. or Brand or category. It could be like Amazon, Etsy and the mall all in one.
  • Reply 20 of 23
    claire1claire1 Posts: 194unconfirmed, member

    ascii said:
    At my local supermarket, there is often a big queue for the automated checkouts, while the human staffed checkouts have no one wanting to use them, they literally have to go on the PA system and ask (beg it sounds like sometimes) people to please use the human cashiers. 

    Online shopping vs staffed stores ("human business") is actually a false alternative. There is a third option: physical-but-automated stores. Best of both worlds?
    My supermarkets are about half and half.

    I have no idea why someone would wait in line for an automated machine when human aisles are literally empty.

    Are you being truthful?
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