Apple Offers 21st Century Retail Roadmap During Fall Keynote
The big Apple event on Tuesday was filled with tons of new product announcements and highlighted by the unveiling of the iPhone X. But there was a fairly overshadowed portion of the event that happened early on, prior to any new products hitting the stage, and it focused on the Cupertino tech firm’s moves on the retail side of things.
After officially opening the Steve Jobs Theater and welcoming those in attendance to Apple’s new campus, Tim Cook invited Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts onto the stage to give a brief update on the company’s retail enhancements.
We’ve heard in the past this concept that Apple likes to think of its retail locations as products themselves. Earlier this year, Apple launched the biggest redesign of its “retail line” in 15 years, dropping the word “Store” and instead referring to these physical retail spaces as “town squares,” as Ahrendts put it. Physically, the locations have received some cosmetic upgrades designed to give off a more community-driven feel to them (where applicable), and the company has integrated its “Today at Apple” program in each store, bringing educational sessions and in-store experiences to the fore.
“‘Today at Apple’ is one of the ways we’re evolving our experience to better serve local customers and entrepreneurs,” Ahrendts said in a statement at the time. “We’re creating a modern-day town square, where everyone is welcome in a space where the best of Apple comes together to connect with one another, discover a new passion, or take their skill to the next level. We think it will be a fun and enlightening experience for everyone who joins.”
But during her portion of the keynote, Ahrendts talked more about how Apple is expanding its retail footprint in unique ways throughout the world, with new locations popping up in some unexpected and intricately designed locations. For example, in Washington, D.C., Apple obtained a lease to open a store in the historic Carnegie Library where company officials said it plans to restore the building to its “original grandeur” and outfit it as a place capable of hosting concerts, art exhibitions, and workshops for the public featuring its products.
“This is a way of creating a reason to come to the store, to touch and feel our products, but also to have an engaging experience with someone who is passionate about the same thing,” said B.J. Siegel, Apple Retail’s senior design director, told the Washington Post. “For us, it wasn’t about coming in and leaving our mark. It was about bringing the history back out and respecting it.”
Apple also announced plans to open other uniquely designed stores in Chicago, Paris, and other major cities throughout the world.
What stands out about the locations, aside from their Apple-inspired look and feel, is the commitment to making these so-called community centers. Of course, like any retail location, success is going to be determined by the number of dollars a particular store brings in. But, at least on the surface, Apple’s big pitch is that these are locations where the community can come together, hang out, get work done, and oh-by-the-way get hands on with the latest Apple products. And that right there is one reason why Apple continues to succeed in the rough-and-tumble brick-and-mortar industry—exorbitant price points be damned.