Apple to test hybrid in-store, work-from-home model for retail employees

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As pandemic restriction ease, Apple will reportedly test a hybrid work model that includes both in-store and work-from-home arrangements for retail employees.

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple


The Cupertino tech giant will test a pilot program called "Retail Flex" later in 2021, Bloomberg reported Thursday. The arrangement will allow retail staffers to work some weeks at brick-and-mortar locations, and other weeks completely remotely.

When they're working at home, retail employees will handle customer service, online sales, and technical support. The move acknowledges that many consumers still prefer online shopping to in-store retail, even as vaccination rates and economic re-openings increase around the world.

Retail workers will move between in-store and remote roles depending on brick-and-mortar demand versus online shopping demand in a particular period, sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

The first batch of participants in the pilot program will test out the "Retail Flex" model for at least six months. Apple is planning to ramp up the arrangements from September to December, when new iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, and other devices are released.

In June, Apple retail chief Deirdre O'Brien said that she doesn't expect a "major shift" to Apple's retail strategy as the global health crisis eased.

Apple reopened all of its retail stores in June after a series of coronavirus-related closures. In some parts of the U.S., the company has also dropped pandemic-era safety requirements -- such as mask wearing -- at its retail locations.

Earlier in 2021, Apple announced a plan for non-retail employees to return to work for several days of the week starting in September. Per the plan, in-office work is optional on Wednesdays and Fridays for most staff.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 5
    My dream is to buy only at the apple store!

    But in São Paulo Brazil, the prices are always crazy at the Apple store!

    For example the Apple Watch series 6 40mm blue 
    Its $555 on third parties, all legal and with 1 year Apple warranty. 
    The same model is $1050  at the Apple store. Almost double.
  • Reply 2 of 5
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,637member
    My dream is to buy only at the apple store!

    But in São Paulo Brazil, the prices are always crazy at the Apple store!

    For example the Apple Watch series 6 40mm blue 
    Its $555 on third parties, all legal and with 1 year Apple warranty. 
    The same model is $1050  at the Apple store. Almost double.

    You must not be telling us the whole story. Apple follows all applicable laws and regulations when selling products in its stores. They collect all required taxes and tariffs and turn over all of those monies to the revenue authorities. They only bring products into the country through legal channels that are governed by import regulations of the country in question. There is absolutely no reason why Apple would charge nearly 2X the prevailing market price for the privilege of purchasing a product in their store - no way.

    The third parties you've mentioned must be using a mechanism to bypass or circumvent local requirements. This could be any number of things, such as obtaining products through gray market sources, not collecting required taxes (VAT), or some other scheme that they have found a way to exploit. The VAT in Brazil can be 70% of the product price. Such as scheme would not be significantly different than schemes employed in other countries.

    For example, in the US buyers often purchase products online from sellers who have no obligation, and no legal authority in fact, to collect sales tax on sales in states the seller does not have a legal presence in, i.e., nexus. From a tax collection standpoint, buyers are still legally obligated to pay the sales tax equivalent, in the form of a use tax, to their state for products purchased out-of-state where the seller did not, and legally could not, collect sales tax. Do the vast majority of people remit this use tax when they submit their yearly tax submissions? Hell no. Along the same lines, sellers who prominently proclaim "we don't collect sales tax for out-of-state orders!" in their advertising aren't doing you a favor or giving you a bonus. They cannot legally collect sales tax in states where they do not have nexus. All they are doing is subtlety reminding you, perhaps, that it's totally up to YOU to decide whether you want to cheat your state out of the use tax on the items you purchase. It's all on the buyer and the seller is totally out of the picture.

    Apple always plays 100% by the rules. If third party sellers are selling Apple products at a 50% discount, those sellers are either sidestepping requirements or passing requirements on to the buyers and the buyers are choosing to ignore the law. Anything else would make zero sense at all.
    gregoriusmmuthuk_vanalingamuraharabyronlFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 3 of 5
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    My dream is to buy only at the apple store!

    But in São Paulo Brazil, the prices are always crazy at the Apple store!

    For example the Apple Watch series 6 40mm blue 
    Its $555 on third parties, all legal and with 1 year Apple warranty. 
    The same model is $1050  at the Apple store. Almost double.
    The same is true here in the U.S. -- just not as extreme
    I just purchased a pair or Airpod Pros for my grandson (actually for his mom to give to him):   At the Apple Store they were $250.  From Amazon they were $199 (They would have been even less had I waited for Prime Day).

    Apple has clearly gone the route of third party sellers.  Apple never discounts -- but they (almost) always do.

    But, unless you know exactly what you want, the Apple Stores serve a purpose to let people look and touch before buying -- and also to get information and comparison shop (is the iPad Pro worth the extra money?).

    I hope that it is not condemned to being a profit center because the Apple Stores can not only drive online sales but they also serve educational and support roles as well.  The Apple Stores do a lot more for Apple (and its customers) than sell product.

  • Reply 4 of 5
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    This will strip Apple Stores of some valuable personnel:
    One example:   my Airpod pros were acting up where one would work and the other wouldn't.  And, of course, it happened erratically and unpredictably.  They were new to me and I wasn't sure what was going on.  When I called to schedule an appointment with a tech at the store I was told by Apple to take them to Best Buy!

    Ultimately I ended up going through online support who, of course, was guessing.  Eventually after replacing one Airpod they replaced the case and that seemed to work.  But the whole process was sloppy and frustrating.

    When I asked why it was so hard to get an appointment at the Apple Store I was told most of the technicians had been pulled out of the store and was working online support.

    For me that sounds like a step down -- but then I can walk to my Apple Store (run if I'm in a hurry!).
    I suspect I might feel differently if it was a 2 hour drive away.
  • Reply 5 of 5
    fred1fred1 Posts: 1,039member
    Where I live there are no Apple Stores, but the official retailer has prices that are always much higher than other resellers. I guess they think they’re privileged and can charge more. 
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