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Apple and the misty-eyed vision of retail's future

We hope that Angela Ahrendts is right about the customer and employee experience at Apple stores. They are wealthy enough to have very expensive stores that don't cover their cost in revenue. But we have to wonder if this model is fragile, and will be unsustainable when that perfect cultural alignment falls the least bit out-of-whack. 

Apple stores will not necessarily be a competitive advantage against Amazon. Amazon's physical retail will evolve quickly, and Apple will probably have to respond. 

Marketing Week: Apple’s Angela Ahrendts: Retail is not dying, but it has to evolve, 2018-Jun-20 by Charlotte Rogers

Describing stores as Apple’s “biggest product”, the senior vice-president for retail outlined a clear and compelling business case for physical retail during her session the Cannes Lions Festival today (20 June).... 

She sees physical stores as space for human experience, a reason why typically a third of square footage in all new Apple stores is dedicated to the delivery of the brand’s year-old education programme, Today at Apple.

“We’re not opening small stores, we’re taking the small stores and doubling or tripling the size of them to accommodate a forum and we’re only opening big stores in the future that can handle it,” she said.... 

Ahrendts describes her retail staff as “the secret sauce” that helps Apple stand out in a fiercely competitive market.... 

“They’re our ambassadors, they’re our greatest differentiator. This is something that Apple has that Amazon and Alibaba and nobody else has – people on the front line. And remember they’re hired to this day to enrich lives,” she explained.

“You’ve been to an Apple store, you feel that energy. The values at Apple, the values of the store teams, the loyalty and the tenure – it’s a culture that is so aligned...." 



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