Apple to remodel retail stores

Discussion
Feb 18, 2015
George Anderson

When Steve Jobs passed away in 2011, his close friend and senior vice president of design at Apple, Jonathan Ive, became the "creative soul of the company," as a former executive at the tech giant told The New Yorker. Everything design-related at the company falls to Mr. Ive including, as it turns out, store design.

According to the same New Yorker article, Mr. Ive is working with Angela Ahrendts, the former Burberry CEO who joined Apple as senior vice president, retail and online stores last spring, to remodel the company’s stores for the debut of the long awaited Apple Watch.

While details are scant on the changes coming to the Apple Store, it appears as though Mr. Ive plans the Apple Watch area to be more upscale to reflect the device’s fashion image and price. To support his position, Mr. Ive recalled a comment he overheard from an unnamed individual who said, "I’m not going to buy a watch if I can’t stand on carpet."

Is the time right for Apple to remodel its stores? How do you see the launch of the Apple Watch influencing the remodels?

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15 Comments on "Apple to remodel retail stores"


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Dick Seesel
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

A major product launch requires reallocation of space, especially given the flat iPad business right now. And the stark color scheme and flat surfaces designed for “playing” also require a reboot for the much different product demonstration needs of the Apple Watch. It will be interesting to see what other luxury design elements are brought to what has been a very successful formula.

Zel Bianco
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

Apple has walked the line between technology and luxury item for some time now. While I think it makes sense for Apple to remodel (imagine if they still had their original logo?) I hope they don’t go too far down the path towards fashion and luxury. Apple’s brand story of starting out as a couple of geniuses in a garage is endearing and part of what makes them so beloved.

Warren Thayer
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

Hiring someone from Burberry (for $73 million, no less) to re-do the Apple stores sounds a bit like J.C. Penney hiring Ron Johnson away from Apple to fix its problems a few years back. Perhaps Apple just doesn’t know what to do with all its money. So I’ve heard a customer say he wouldn’t buy a watch unless he was standing on a carpet. Great market research. There’s certainly overlap between the Burberry customer and the Apple customer, but they aren’t one and the same. Most Apple customers I know couldn’t care less about carpet when they buy a watch. But what do I know? I live in Vermont, with my iPhone, MacBook Air and iPad.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

Whether it’s time or not, the introduction of the Apple Watch line gives the company a logical reason to do something they may have done anyway. It also provides added incentive for Apple users to “come see what we did,” and while there perhaps buy something. Apple is seen by many as an upscale brand if not for the product itself than certainly for the price, and having a sales environment that reflects it is a logical move.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

Very separate issues here.

The “store” is really a series of tables showcasing technology. It has a certain feel and buzz where no design element is allowed to distract from the products.

Now if you decide that every new line requires new decor you have to a. limit new lines or b. be prepared to constantly change the look and feel of the retail floor.

Apple shouldn’t forget what it’s selling—technology and technological chic. A hi-tech sensibility isn’t the same thing as fashion.

Maybe the anonymous man who wouldn’t buy a watch without standing on a carpet ought to be asked if he feels the same way about buying a computer. That’s the real test.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

It is not that easy a task to decide if a store remodel is necessary. But unless there is a completely new concept coming out, I do not think it is required. I realize we are talking about Apple and money is really not a concern, but why spend it unless it is necessary? Sure, changes can be made to enhance the appearance. But a remodel? Why?

Chris Petersen, PhD.
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

Tough to do an assessment on rumors, but ALL retail stores need to re-examine and refresh based upon changing consumer dynamics.

Apple stores are the epitome of designing a store stage around the consumer experience. The worst thing Apple could do is re-design stores around a product category or one specific consumer segment.

So yes, it is the right time to refresh for an even more connected consumer experience across products. BUT please do not redesign Apple stores to sell watches, or Apple cars or the next “big thing.”

Tom Redd
Guest
5 years 7 months ago
Ok, here are some ideas for the store layout: Call it “Lifestyle Layout” The fashion section: Area with iMannies (Mannequins) that show the watch and have moving eyes, fingers, etc. The iMannies are aligned with different lines of shoppers: The luxury look, the trender and the common person (the one that does not watch red carpet pre-shows for the Oscars.) The kids section: Get the under-12 kids off the main selling space. Senior dreams area: Get all the 50-and-older people that are computer illiterate off the main floor and near the kids area. I am over 50 but not dreaming about reading and sending my kids and friends emails all by myself because I have never have done it before. Learning tables: Separate iPhone/iPad away from the iMac or MacPro laptop area. Lastly, carry real accessories and not the Apple-only overpriced products. Walmart is eating Apple’s accessory sales up for lunch. Apple’s assortment of margin making and visitor attraction accessories is a major failure. OK, enough free advice. The rest of my ideas are $9… Read more »
W. Frank Dell II
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

It has been a number of years since the Apple stores were set up. Every retailer need to remodel just to stay competitive. Thus it is time for a store update. The question is if it should be around a new product. What if the product fails? Then the store is changed maybe for nothing. In this case it will need another product to showcase. I have noticed many of the younger people don’t even have watches. They get their time and date information from their cell phones, which they are on all the time. I have reservations about the Apple and Google watches being the next big must-have products.

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

The challenge is to manage different functions while using the same space. Allowing consumers the opportunity to see, feel and try products is an essential part of the business, and that requires an open space with room for products and people. The training (individual and group) requires tables and a quiet space. The inclusion of a large selection of small watches that vary from the less expensive (relatively speaking) to the high-end luxury product, all of which need demonstration and explanation, requires a different space. Oh yes, the Genius Bar needs a space. Coming up with a new design that facilitates these requirements within existing space in the many different store configurations is quite a challenge. Is it time for a reconfiguration? Yes.

Anne Howe
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

Store design at Apple is a little stale, especially given the sea of people milling around all the time. I find it a bit too crazed, certainly not the environment to really understand the benefits of the watch, carpet or not. What’s needed may be a bit of a quiet, elegant space in which to be able to learn and actually hear about the product. The store-within-a-store and great sales assist will be a new recipe for Apple retail, but I’ll bet they are willing to experiment with imagination.

Looking forward to seeing what Ms. Ahrendts and Mr. Ive can do together!

Liz Crawford
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

Apple has to prove itself again. Since Steve Jobs passed away, Google has come on strong and many of the Apple innovations feel like old hat.

So the time is right for Apple to give itself a makeover. In fact, part of the purchase price for Apple products is the “gee-whiz” factor and (at least token) participation in a larger community of innovators. Apple has to continue to make good on that brand promise, or risk losing equity.

Robert DiPietro
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

The time is right to remodel the stores! I’m assuming they need to update the layout and possibly the fixtures to display the new watch appropriately. It will be interesting to see if it has a jewelry store feel to it or whether they immerse it and display it in an ecosystem way and show how it will interact with the other hardware.

The question I have is, how long will it take Microsoft to copy the new design?

Lee Kent
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

I guess they will need more room for the Cars!

Just had to add that….it’s just my 2 cents.

Gordon Arnold
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

A quick look around and most of us might observe that fewer and fewer are wearing watches. The Millennial generation and their immediate predecessors, generation X, consider them a sign of age. Mindsets like “only old people wear them” and “what for?” will take a significant amount of reeducation to put the iWatch where it needs to be for Apple to make the kind of returns they are use to.

I have no doubt that it will take a miracle like the reinvention of a technological buggy whip for Mr. Ives to establish himself as the legitimate replacement for Mr. Jobs. I just don’t see that all the necessary ingredients for this migration of image as being a new rug and some nifty displays. It somehow is kind of like putting lipstick on a pig to increase pork sales. But I am willing to watch how this plays out.

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