Apple opens next-generation stores

Discussion
Apr 04, 2016
Tom Ryan

Apple Stores, already regaled for its top-notch locations, has opened new prototypes that many see as the first inspired by its newish retail chief, Angela Ahrendts.

Many have been wondering how the new concept may evolve to reflect the couture sensibilities or Ms. Ahrendts, the former Burberry CEO who joined Apple in mid-2014. Also prominently involved in the redesign was chief design officer Jony Ive, who has been with Apple since 1992 and is famed for his minimalist style.

The first stand-alone store opened last week in Memphis, while prototypes have opened in malls in upstate New York and overseas.

According to reviews, noticeable changes include:

Floor-to-ceiling screen: The main visual draw of the prototype is a 37-foot flat panel television facing the traditional all-glass entrance. Reportedly costing $1.5 million, the screen encased in a black housing fills most of the back wall and shows product videos.

Logo-less design: Perhaps the most surprising change is that the iconic Apple logo is nowhere to be seen. A review by Field Agent, the market researcher, found the lack of Apple branding was the main complaint about the Memphis store.

Wood: Moving on from clinic white, the prototype features unpainted, wooden tables.

Much of the other updates seem as expected. Apple Insider said the high ceilings at the Memphis store feature “embedded light panels and recessed spotlights that illuminate product display tables below, arranged to maximize floor space and achieve a sense of openness.” USB ports and electrical outlets on the tables are controlled by motion sensors to pop out automatically.

A side area, “The Avenue,” with wooden displays enables shoppers to try out headphones and includes shelf space for speakers, watches and other accessories.

In an interview last November at Fast Company’s Innovation Festival, Ms. Ahrendts likened “The Avenue” section to walking through a “small town and looking into each window.” She indicated Apple was looking to merge online and offline, although that isn’t readily evident in the reviews. Other priorities include redesigning the stores around use cases for devices and making the stores more inviting to “kids who prefer no human interaction.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
What upgrades should Apple Stores consider? Are you concerned about the missing logo, massive video screen and other features already revealed in the new prototype?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Many will be disappointed that there are no dramatic changes. But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it too much."
"The missing logo is a huge misstep. The massive screen is striking in an empty store, but Apple stores are rarely empty and Apple would not want the stores to be empty."
"I suspect Apple removing it is partly recognizing their new status and partly a rejection of the critique that their success stems from a cult of branding."

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16 Comments on "Apple opens next-generation stores"


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Chris Petersen, PhD.
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

Apple is one of the few retailers that can pull off a store without a logo — but why? Haven’t seen the Memphis store yet, but the photo in the article shows an Apple logo outside of the glass storefront.

The store of the future is less about “things” and more about experience and use cases. This iteration seems to have taken the experiences to the next level. The key to store experience is the staff, and Apple has always excelled at recruiting the right talent and training them to engage.

Many will be disappointed that there are no dramatic changes. But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it too much. Apple Stores already generate the highest revenue per square foot of any store in the U.S.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

The missing logo is a huge misstep. The massive screen is striking in an empty store, but Apple stores are rarely empty and Apple would not want the stores to be empty. With lots of people milling around it will be impossible for all but the front row people to see the screen. What improvement should be made? There needs to be a major refresh on the training of the employees helping consumers. More often there are people not familiar enough with the software to answer specific questions or people who do not know how to get the customer to articulate what they need before offering solutions. I am very disappointed in this new concept store.

Max Goldberg
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

I like the look of the new store, but question the lack of a logo. Has branding reached the point that a manufacturer no longer needs to identify its brand?

My other concern is the statement: “Other priorities include redesigning the stores around use cases for devices and making the stores more inviting to ‘kids who prefer no human interaction.'” Apple is renowned for its customer interaction. Does this mean Apple is trying to save money by having fewer salespeople on the floor? Or is this a sad commentary on the social skills of “kids”?

Adrian Weidmann
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

After two years with Apple, Ms. Ahrendts unveils the next generation store!? Really? Adding an expensive video wall and creating a more sparse space and removing the logo is the next generation? From a design and environmental point of view it strikes me as extremely underwhelming! As retailers try to differentiate their brick-and-mortar stores from an online experience, its seems as though Apple has decided to replicate their online experience in the physical world.

More interesting is where the stores are to be located and how you mobilize and empower the store associates. That may be far more important for Apple.

Bob Phibbs
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

They have one in Albany, NY as well, which I have been in. The crew talks about the expense of the wall as not being that great. Meh. It’s sterile and devoid of the humanity they used to have in graphics around the store. Maybe that’s the point. And let’s face it, they could do just about anything and it won’t change their trajectory upwards — even with their crew that pretty much tell you to wait for someone who knows something.

Dick Seesel
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

It’s hard to mistake the Apple Store for anything else, even in its new iteration. (And yes, I’m seeing the same logo on the right side of the storefront.) Apple can certainly afford to experiment with its design concept and functionality as it faces more and more imitators and as its own assortment of products and cloud-based services continues to grow. Keep in mind that when the original Apple Store roll-out began, there were no iPhones, no iPads and no iCloud.

Gordon Arnold
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

The missing logo isn’t a mistake at all, it is arrogance personified in the disguise of a savvy marketeer. The “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” axiom is supported by many and is intended to make sure we are properly investigating to use investments for what is necessary. What Apple needs is a price point that will increase sales and total net profits.

Shep Hyken
Guest
4 years 7 months ago
My thoughts on the lack of a logo … There are slogans and taglines that are synonymous with a brand. For example: “When it positively has to be there overnight.” Do I need to tell you it’s FedEx? I don’t think so! Apple is similar in that they have made such an amazing presence in the retail world, and their followers/customers know and understand what they are all about, that you don’t have to put the logo on the store for them to know the store is the Apple Store. There are those that don’t (didn’t) watch TV and don’t know the FedEx slogan. And some of us don’t go to the movies and have no idea who Brad Pitt is (really?). Or maybe someone has never been to a mall or retail strip and seen an Apple Store. Would a logo help? And in the end, is this really an Apple customer? There may be a time when Apple needs to be less subtle about the lack of a logo. (Is that a double… Read more »
Jeff Hall
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

I consider this next generation retail design as less “fixing something that isn’t broken” and more “highly intentional, methodical refinement.” Apple is taking iterative steps to ensure every element of the space is focused on the product and encouraging shopper engagement. An underlying imperative is of course having knowledgeable, consultative team members who are both empathetic listeners and adept at resolving customer needs.

Brian Kelly
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

Perhaps I am a Luddite, a non-believer or I just pushed aside the ever present Kool-Aid. I never genuflected at this altar.

To me, this was easy. Create new categories and better mouse traps, sell a few items with wildly popular global acceptance and screeching demand. Stone from Italy, spartan tables, a customer service desk (Genius Bar) and t-shirted front-liners.

What’s the big deal? The products sold themselves and they flew off the shelves.

Reinvention? Now we’re talking about a real challenge. Logo or not, Ahrendts or Ivey, Jobs or Cook — lets see what they do when categories aren’t invented or better mouse traps are no longer the draw. You know, like the rest of the mall.

That time is closing in. Maybe we are seeing it for the first time. Or were some of these elements in the first Microsoft stores?

As we like to say, “retail ain’t for sissies!”

Herb Sorensen
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

Apple has effectively invested billions of dollars in their iconic logo. That investment has resulted in trillions of subconscious impressions, and is a MAJOR selling asset of the company. Bringing new creatives to the table, wanting to make their OWN impression on the company, often their first moves are to trash branding assets.

Tweaking the assets is often in order. Throwing them in the trash…???

With all the other features, no doubt many influenced by Jony Ive, are probably positives. I don’t doubt Ahrendts’ contribution to the overall look and feel, but I also suspect that she is the driving force behind trashing the logo.

Again, Neale Martin’s “Habit: The 95% of Behavior Marketers Ignore.

Dan Raftery
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

Seems to fit the Apple image, even without the logo on display. The overall design reminds me of an art museum, which an Apple store pretty much is. Contemporary, cool, visually neutral so the products (art) can dominate.

Aside from the price, the only negative I can see regarding the screen is reliability. What would it look like dark? But maybe for $1.5 mil, you don’t have to worry…?

Karen S. Herman
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

I see a holistic change with these design updates in the Memphis store that is inviting, refreshing and clearly supports the user experience of the customer. Adding “passion points” for photography and gaming is brilliant and I like “The Avenue” concept for shoppers to test and try products.

Interesting that Apple looks to be moving closer to an aspirational lifestyle company as Amazon is moving into brick and mortar and will open its second store in Southern California.

The lack of the Apple logo on display is telling. You know how powerful the Apple brand is when the logo does not need to be seen. Another brilliant move that subtly reinforces that Apple rules and it is the customer who matters.

William Hogben
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

There was a time when Apple was the scrappy #2, fighting for mindshare and needed to build it’s brand — that time is over. Now that Apple is on top, nobody needs the logo to recognize them. I suspect Apple removing it is partly recognizing their new status and partly a rejection of the critique that their success stems from a cult of branding.

Carlos Arambula
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

By excluding the logo Apple is welcoming other brands to appropriate the look and feel of Apple retail locations. As it stands now, you can slap a Crate & Barrel name anywhere in the front and it stops being a retail brand element for Apple.

Anne Howe
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

Very interested in the logic behind a decision to have no visual icons given their logo is so elegant and effective.

Also I cannot understand why prioritizing for young people who prefer a “no human interaction” section makes sense. Is Apple encouraging a generation from ever looking up and communicating in real life with words and emotions and facial expressions? I hate to think so.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Many will be disappointed that there are no dramatic changes. But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it too much."
"The missing logo is a huge misstep. The massive screen is striking in an empty store, but Apple stores are rarely empty and Apple would not want the stores to be empty."
"I suspect Apple removing it is partly recognizing their new status and partly a rejection of the critique that their success stems from a cult of branding."

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