Apple's 'experiential retail' success lies in improving a customer's life claims Angela Ah...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 29
Apple is excelling at retail because it has different aims to other stores, retail chief Angela Ahrendts advised in an interview, with the company bucking the trend of store closures though "experiential retail" and providing education to the customer, rather than just selling merchandise.

Angela Ahrendts (right) with Apple CEO Tim Cook
Angela Ahrendts (right) with Apple CEO Tim Cook


Speaking at the former Carnegie Library in Washington, DC, Ahrendts advises Apple is "now opening fewer, larger stores so that you can get the full experience of everything that's Apple." The aim is to build long-term customer relationships in its stores, and it can only do so by showing as much as it can of its products and services to customers.

The philosophy continues what founder and CEO Steve Jobs envisioned for the company's stores, Ahrendts told Vogue Business. "Steve told the teams when he opened retail 18 years ago, 'Your job is not to sell, your job is to enrich their lives and always through the lens of education,'" Ahrendts noted.

The push towards providing a place to meet rather than to sell is important, according to the retail head, advising "I think as humans we still need gathering places, and when you are serving digital natives, the thing they long for more than anything is human connection. Eye contact."

Apple's offering of non-sales elements in its stores, its Today at Apple events that ranges from classes to concerts referred to as "experimental retail," is being adopted by others. Urban Outfitters is noted to have three "Space" stores where it hosts gigs and workshops, whole the Reel Mall in Shanghai offers carpentry and jewelry-making classes.

Ahrendts has seen these elements crop up elsewhere, highlighting efforts by Soho House and CitizenM with praise. "They have filled this huge niche, a combination of experience and human connection."

As a major retail presence around the world, Ahrendts advised of the use of technology to improve the retail experience. In stores, there are thousands of beacons used to connect with the Apple Store app on iPhones, welcoming customers while allowing for purchasing without going through the cash register"

"As we renovate every store we update all the technology," it is advised. "We don't want to be gimmicky, but stores need to become living, breathing spaces, not just two-dimensional boxes."
patchythepirate
«134

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 80
    Based on what I've seen in our local Apple store, I have to mostly agree with this article.  This weekend, there was a Girl Scout troop playing some kind of group game, and the only Apple device even in use was a large screen hooked up to an iPad.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not so naive as to think that there wasn't some subliminal salesmanship going on there, but there wasn't even any attempt to say anything about the products themselves, just having fun with the girls.  It was the salesmanship of simply using the products, not even talking about them at all.
    patchythepiratelolliver
  • Reply 2 of 80
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,973moderator
    I’d have used the word experiential retail.  I wonder if Angela misspoke and then decided to just go with it.  
    muthuk_vanalingammacplusplus
  • Reply 3 of 80
    I had an abysmal experience the last time in the Apple store. I had made an appointment a week in advance to pick up and activate my new Iphone XR, trading in a 6S. After an hour in the store, passed to 3 different reps, I left the store with a non-functioning iphone (though I didn't know this until after I left the store to go to dinner). I returned to another Apple store after dinner and they could not fix the problem, had to go to T-Mobile, where one of their reps replaced the sim and activated it properly. Follow up customer surveys and comments were not answered by Apple. And I am a long term Apple shareholder. Not sure what Angela does for her $70M, but I'd start with sending customers home with working products.
    albegarc
  • Reply 4 of 80
    It is impressive that Apple stores, especially the flagship stores, have become tourist attractions. Whenever I travel I make it a point to visit one. In many instances they have repurposed old historic buildings incorporating historic elements with modern design. Grand Central Station, SoHo, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, Waikiki, all unique in their own way yet the same Apple “feel”. Waiting for the 3rd iteration of Apple Fifth Ave NY to open. The stores provide a great opportunity to relax, people watch, take a class and learn something new about my devices and buy an accessory/product. Everytime I ask Siri via HomePod to turn on my lights or adjust the heat I rember my visit to Apple Park where I bought the HomePod. First discovered Voice Memos in a class at the Waikiki store and my hot pink watch band from Miami. 
    radarthekatalbegarcapplesnorangesAppleExposedrandominternetpersonStrangeDays
  • Reply 5 of 80
    I get the story they're building around enriching lives through education but if it didn't lead to increase sales and upselling they wouldn't be carrying the additional salaries and overhead needed to support the initiative.
    beowulfschmidt
  • Reply 6 of 80
    FolioFolio Posts: 488member
    iOS_Guy80 said:
    It is impressive that Apple stores, especially the flagship stores, have become tourist attractions. Whenever I travel I make it a point to visit one. In many instances they have repurposed old historic buildings incorporating historic elements with modern design. Grand Central Station, SoHo, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, Waikiki, all unique in their own way yet the same Apple “feel”. Waiting for the 3rd iteration of Apple Fifth Ave NY to open. The stores provide a great opportunity to relax, people watch, take a class and learn something new about my devices and buy an accessory/product. Everytime I ask Siri via HomePod to turn on my lights or adjust the heat I rember my visit to Apple Park where I bought the HomePod. First discovered Voice Memos in a class at the Waikiki store and my hot pink watch band from Miami. 
    Your hot pink watch band (reminiscent of South Miami Beach perhaps) makes me hope Apple considers token regional offerings. Let a Japanese designer sell her bands in Apple Tokyo stores for instance. More easy to do would be regional trophy badges, like a Mt Fuji icon for those who make the climb. Another for Kilamanjaro, or maybe completing various hikes in national parks around the world. 
    applesnorangesalbegarclordjohnwhorfinAppleExposedrandominternetpersonlolliver
  • Reply 7 of 80
    I’d have used the word experiential retail.  I wonder if Angela misspoke and then decided to just go with it.  
    I’d use experiential too, as did Ahrendts and the source article. It’s a typo. 
    randominternetpersonSpamSandwichlolliver
  • Reply 8 of 80
    65026502 Posts: 169member
    iOS_Guy80 said:
    It is impressive that Apple stores, especially the flagship stores, have become tourist attractions. Whenever I travel I make it a point to visit one. In many instances they have repurposed old historic buildings incorporating historic elements with modern design. Grand Central Station, SoHo, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, Waikiki, all unique in their own way yet the same Apple “feel”. Waiting for the 3rd iteration of Apple Fifth Ave NY to open. The stores provide a great opportunity to relax, people watch, take a class and learn something new about my devices and buy an accessory/product. Everytime I ask Siri via HomePod to turn on my lights or adjust the heat I rember my visit to Apple Park where I bought the HomePod. First discovered Voice Memos in a class at the Waikiki store and my hot pink watch band from Miami. 
    I've been to many Apple stores in the Bay Area and the last thing I can do in them is relax. They've always been a hectic chaotic place that I avoid unless necessary.
    albegarc
  • Reply 9 of 80
    Sounds good. How about opening an Apple Store on Vancouver Island. You've got ~3/4 million people, most of them in the Nanaimo-Victoria stretch. Yet the only Apple Stores are in Vancouver, a $150 round trip ferry ride away. You have a good Apple user base here, yet London Drugs is the only place we can go for service, and online is the preferred place to buy. I've been here  12 years and  I've been to the Minneapolis Apple Store more than the Vancouver stores.
    AppleExposed
  • Reply 10 of 80
    65026502 Posts: 169member
    This woman makes $100 of millions, dresses in thousand dollar outfits and has made no material changes to Apple retail since Ron Johnson. And, Apple retail employees still make lousy wages. Remind me how she is deserving of this? She is simply the token woman at Apple.
    hammeroftruth
  • Reply 11 of 80
    6502 said:
    This woman makes $100 of millions, dresses in thousand dollar outfits and has made no material changes to Apple retail since Ron Johnson. And, Apple retail employees still make lousy wages. Remind me how she is deserving of this? She is simply the token woman at Apple.
    I'd suggest you look at this page:
    https://www.apple.com/ca/leadership/
    There's at least five highly placed women at Apple. That's not even counting the thousands of women in lower positions in the management tree.

    SoliStrangeDayslolliver
  • Reply 12 of 80
    65026502 Posts: 169member
    DAalseth said:
    6502 said:
    This woman makes $100 of millions, dresses in thousand dollar outfits and has made no material changes to Apple retail since Ron Johnson. And, Apple retail employees still make lousy wages. Remind me how she is deserving of this? She is simply the token woman at Apple.
    I'd suggest you look at this page:
    https://www.apple.com/ca/leadership/
    There's at least five highly placed women at Apple. That's not even counting the thousands of women in lower positions in the management tree.

    I never said there aren't women employees at Apple. Angela is the token woman they drag out the most to say "look, we have women in leadership at Apple". She's accomplished nothing of significance at Apple, yet brings in a massive salary and pays retail employees crap. The only other one they drag out is Lisa Jackson who says the same thing every time on how environmentally friendly their products are. Yeah, we get it. And wow, Apple has a female head of HR; I've rarely seen a company that doesn't have a female head of HR.
  • Reply 13 of 80
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 584unconfirmed, member
    6502 said:
    This woman makes $100 of millions, dresses in thousand dollar outfits and has made no material changes to Apple retail since Ron Johnson. And, Apple retail employees still make lousy wages. Remind me how she is deserving of this? She is simply the token woman at Apple.

    She's done a lot.
    lolliver
  • Reply 14 of 80
    65026502 Posts: 169member
    6502 said:
    This woman makes $100 of millions, dresses in thousand dollar outfits and has made no material changes to Apple retail since Ron Johnson. And, Apple retail employees still make lousy wages. Remind me how she is deserving of this? She is simply the token woman at Apple.

    She's done a lot.
    The Apple Store has not materially changed since Ron Johnson started it. Oh wait, yes the t-shirt colors are different, there you go.
  • Reply 15 of 80
    The Apple retail experience has gotten steadily worse in the last few years, especially when you have a problem.

    Yes, the ability to pay via app is nice... except that it's not clear what products on the shelves you can actually do that with. It turns out that you can't do it for products that have serial-number barcodes that need to be registered... but the app doesn't make that clear. Last time I tried it, I just got a generic error message as if the barcode failed to scan.

    When you have an issue, the Apple Store becomes a Kafka-esque nightmare. Even with an appointment, you'll be facing a wait. You'll have to somehow figure out who the one person in the store who can check you in might be, and where they are; there's no signage or particular uniform to make this clear. They'll shuffle you off to someone else, who will eventually take you to a chair at the crowded Genius Bar to wait for yet another person to triage you, and eventually you'll get yet another person to take care of your problem.

    That is, if they have the parts on hand in the right box. I had a failed iPad Smart Keyboard. The store I went to was out of replacement keyboards in repair boxes in the back room, so I was told I'd have to come back in next week when they got more of them. That's a two-hour round trip for me. They couldn't ship the replacement to my home, because I'd come into the store to initiate the process. They couldn't give me one of the Smart Keyboards sitting on the display shelf, because it was in retail packaging, not repair packaging.

    Days later, it was another multiple-person wait-some-more dance just to get the replacement part out of the back room.

    It would've been a much more pleasant experience if there were a customer-service window and a queue, as in any other retail store. What Apple does today is just chaos.

    That experience told me that Apple has lost its customer focus. Wasting hours of a customer's time when your product fails under warranty because it wasn't designed properly—the Smart Keyboard hinge is not durable enough and the wires break quickly in regular use—is not something I expected from Apple. Compounding it by having a replacement part sitting in clear sight on a shelf and refusing to make the replacement? There's no way that doesn't result in customer resentment.

    Apple has become way too much about the form, and has completely forgotten about function, even in their stores.
    ctt_zh
  • Reply 16 of 80
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,556member
    6502 said:
    This woman makes $100 of millions, dresses in thousand dollar outfits and has made no material changes to Apple retail since Ron Johnson. And, Apple retail employees still make lousy wages. Remind me how she is deserving of this? She is simply the token woman at Apple.
    Aside from the massive rollout into China
    The revamp of the online Apple store
    The revamp of the existing stores
    Running customer support.

    If you have a problem with women who earn more money than you then just say so.

    SoliDAalsethrandominternetpersonStrangeDayslolliverfastasleepAppleExposed
  • Reply 17 of 80
    pk22901pk22901 Posts: 138member
    Angela (Ahrends),

    I agree with the commenter about this Apple retail boondoggle:

    Why haven't your stores' workflows allowed for this Plan B? Repairs or replacement parts that cannot be completed during a visit SHOULD be completed "offline" or at a distance IF THAT IS THE CUSTOMER'S DESIRE!

    (Get 'er done.)



  • Reply 18 of 80
    6502 said:
    DAalseth said:
    6502 said:
    This woman makes $100 of millions, dresses in thousand dollar outfits and has made no material changes to Apple retail since Ron Johnson. And, Apple retail employees still make lousy wages. Remind me how she is deserving of this? She is simply the token woman at Apple.
    I'd suggest you look at this page:
    https://www.apple.com/ca/leadership/
    There's at least five highly placed women at Apple. That's not even counting the thousands of women in lower positions in the management tree.

    I never said there aren't women employees at Apple. Angela is the token woman they drag out the most to say "look, we have women in leadership at Apple". She's accomplished nothing of significance at Apple, yet brings in a massive salary and pays retail employees crap. The only other one they drag out is Lisa Jackson who says the same thing every time on how environmentally friendly their products are. Yeah, we get it. And wow, Apple has a female head of HR; I've rarely seen a company that doesn't have a female head of HR.
    Did you even read the flippin' article?  https://www.voguebusiness.com/companies/angela-ahrendts-apple-retail-strategy
    fastasleep
  • Reply 19 of 80
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,318member
    Apple's retail approach was not that special (and has got worse recently) except for the scale. Bang Olufsen has offered the same experience for years and countless stores have had uses beyond 'the sale'. FNAC forums come to mind with chats, concerts, cultural presentations, exhibitions, workshops etc.

    That said, Apple stores are an essential direct communication channel between Apple and its user base. That alone is priceless.

    If I have a criticism it is the same as for every other corporate store - the lack of personality. I would love to see Apple 'tune' their flagship stores to the cities where they operate. Clearly, in the case of Barcelona, a Gaudí inspiration would have given the PsG store a lot more personality.

    In terms of staffing, I am divided. I prefer natural reactions and don't like the idea of 'programing' employees to react to certain situations. Employees should be able to adapt their approach to the needs of the person they have in front of them without falling back onto a 'script' and I have never been able to have a conversation with ANY Apple Store employee without another employee interrupting us to speak of something completely unrelated. That is very irritating. Unfortunately, most employees also run out of ideas if you turn up with a vintage machine and the last time I visited (Christmas) they gave me incorrect information.

    I get the sensation that they are being asked to do too much at the same time.
  • Reply 20 of 80
    macwhiz said:
    The Apple retail experience has gotten steadily worse in the last few years, especially when you have a problem.

    Yes, the ability to pay via app is nice... except that it's not clear what products on the shelves you can actually do that with. It turns out that you can't do it for products that have serial-number barcodes that need to be registered... but the app doesn't make that clear. Last time I tried it, I just got a generic error message as if the barcode failed to scan.

    When you have an issue, the Apple Store becomes a Kafka-esque nightmare. Even with an appointment, you'll be facing a wait. You'll have to somehow figure out who the one person in the store who can check you in might be, and where they are; there's no signage or particular uniform to make this clear. They'll shuffle you off to someone else, who will eventually take you to a chair at the crowded Genius Bar to wait for yet another person to triage you, and eventually you'll get yet another person to take care of your problem.

    That is, if they have the parts on hand in the right box. I had a failed iPad Smart Keyboard. The store I went to was out of replacement keyboards in repair boxes in the back room, so I was told I'd have to come back in next week when they got more of them. That's a two-hour round trip for me. They couldn't ship the replacement to my home, because I'd come into the store to initiate the process. They couldn't give me one of the Smart Keyboards sitting on the display shelf, because it was in retail packaging, not repair packaging.

    Days later, it was another multiple-person wait-some-more dance just to get the replacement part out of the back room.

    It would've been a much more pleasant experience if there were a customer-service window and a queue, as in any other retail store. What Apple does today is just chaos.

    That experience told me that Apple has lost its customer focus. Wasting hours of a customer's time when your product fails under warranty because it wasn't designed properly—the Smart Keyboard hinge is not durable enough and the wires break quickly in regular use—is not something I expected from Apple. Compounding it by having a replacement part sitting in clear sight on a shelf and refusing to make the replacement? There's no way that doesn't result in customer resentment.

    Apple has become way too much about the form, and has completely forgotten about function, even in their stores.
    I’ve had an iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard cover ever since they came out and never had any failures in the keyboard cover. But then, I take care of my stuff.
    lolliver
Sign In or Register to comment.