Fascinating Innovation

Future Experience Found At Apple Stores

Apple’s senior vice president for retail and online stores, Angela Ahrendts recently discussed the future of the Apple retail experience.

There are many retailers trying to figure out how to move beyond being a source of product to being a resource for service and information.  They are putting much more importance on the omni-channel experience making it as engaging, consistent, and seamless as possible. They also recognize the need to empower and engage employees to a much larger degree. Given Apple is considered one of the most innovative and successful retailers in the world, it is great to see humility, transparency and an action plan that Angela described below.

Speaking at the Fast Company Innovation Festival, “Angela Ahrendts spent much of her time talking about how to refocus the stores around Apple’s new services, some of which were not products. While the company has become masterful in selling iPhones and iMacs, Ahrendts says, ‘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’.”

She bemoaned how fragmented the Apple retail experience has been in the past, with Apple.com separate from the Apple Store’s website, and both those separate from the in-store experience. ‘I asked Tim (Cook) a very simple question: Why do we do it this way?’ she recalled. “He said, ‘I don’t know—we’ve always done it this way.’ The company is now working to better unite its online and offline experience.”

One of the first things she decided to do was create a better way to communicate with her 60,000 Apple retail employees. ‘My kids were visiting from London and all they were doing in the car was WhatsApp and Snapchat,’ she says. ‘It hit me: That’s the way we should communicate.’ She now shares a video with her employees every week—three thoughts in under three minutes, she says—so her employees can feel more involved with Apple’s decision-making.”

Many retailers are trying to figure out how to move beyond being a source of product to being a resource for service and information.  They are putting much more importance on the omni-channel experience making it as engaging, consistent, and seamless as possible. They also recognize the need to empower and engage employees to a much larger degree. Given Apple is considered one of the most innovative and successful retailers in the world, it is great to see humility, transparency and an action plan from Angela.