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Angela Ahrendts suggests Apple retail may focus on passions in future
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Nov 10, 2015, 11:14 AM
Apple Stores may become more focused on helping its customers with specific subjects or "passion points," Apple head of retail Angela Ahrendts has suggested. Speaking in an on-stage interview, Ahrendts discussed her time with Apple so far, as well as how the retail experience is slowly unifying both the online and offline stores, and potential changes to the way stores operate for its customers in the future.

Ahrendts spoke on stage at Fast Company's Innovation Festival about her wish to move Apple retail away from long-standing features, such as the Genius Bar, and towards a more inclusive experience. While Apple has successfully mastered the sale of devices, such as iPhones and iMacs, Ahrendts wonders how the retail experience can help with services, instead of products. "How should we handle Apple Pay? How should we help customers download Apple Music? They're not products we're selling – we get no credit for doing that at all. Yet that's good for Apple and the customer."

The stores themselves have mirrored the iPhone and Mac evolution into a "sleeker and smarter" form in recent years, but Ahrendts is still concerned about "how do we get our kids who prefer no human interaction into these stores?" The previously fragmented experience between the Apple website, Apple Store website, and the in-store experience prompted Ahrendts to ask CEO Tim Cook "Why do we do it this way," with Cook simply responding "I don't know – we've always done it this way." Changes are now slowly being implemented to unify the three different experiences.

As for the stores themselves, Ahrendts echoes similar intentions to Ron Johnson, a predecessor in the role, in making "passion points" a greater focus of in-store facilities. This could involve the stores being redesigned around specific hobbies or use cases, such as photography and gaming. One idea stemming from this is "The Avenue," an initiative that repositioned accessories on a wall to make it similar to looking at window displays on a high street.

Despite these intended changes, Ahrendts will still keep the tables a central part of each store. "Jony Ive designed that table – that table is iconic, that table will not change." Other Apple executives are also being brought into in-store changes, with Jimmy Iovine and Eddy Cue consulted over Apple Music's retail experience, while senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi provided guidance over a "curriculum to teach code in stores."

On the subject of China, Ahrendts talked about how an internal study to find which cities would be the top 100 "most populated by 2025" resulted with 20 in the list situated in the country. Initiatives to try and host more international employees in US stores has helped deal with Chinese tourists, as well as helped bring employee retention to 81 percent across all stores.
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Nov 10, 2015, 12:03 PM
Reduce the lighting in Apple Stores. They're brighter than our homes and most offices. That leaves them feeling unnatural.
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Charles Martin
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Nov 10, 2015, 01:24 PM
Inkling: actually most of the standalone stores now use natural lighting whenever possible. Mall stores, obviously, generally can't. I can't say I find them excessively bright (compared to my office, yes, but compared to other mall stores, no) but I do find them too fluorescent -- they could do more with the later, more natural-light-like LED systems and still meet their energy goal. Plus, as you say, slightly darker would enhance the look of the screens.
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Nov 10, 2015, 04:02 PM
I've only been to one store so I don't know how representative it is, but the noise level was almost unbearable.
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Nov 10, 2015, 04:22 PM
Am I the only one who read the title and thought: "They're going to introduce smooching rooms in the back"?
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Nov 10, 2015, 06:34 PM
That sounds so odd. I think she is running out of stuffs to do in the watch fashion department in Apple.
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