Are Apple’s classes getting in the way?
In event planning, too much of a good thing — guests — can have serious repercussions. That’s a problem that the Apple store is running into as customer desire to take advantage of the retailer’s tech classes has outpaced the space in their mostly mall-based locations.
Increased customer awareness and more in-depth class content since the rollout of the “Today at Apple” learning sessions has led to bottlenecks, as described by 9 to 5 Mac columnist Michael Steeber. Customers visiting the store in search of support end up competing for space with people taking the classes, and the chatter necessary for customer problem solving works at cross purposes with the learning environment. The article points to Apple’s more spacious standalone stores as being better able to accommodate both sides of the business (though the Apple store is still largely reliant on mall locations). It also points out a potential path forward in some of the successful learning experiences Apple has held outside of its stores, such as off-site Apple-led training at a museum in Barcelona.
Shifting to learning events at off-site locations, however, could have an impact on store sales.
The “Today at Apple” initiative was launched under the guidance of then-senior vice president of retail Angela Ahrendts as part of a broader initiative to turn Apple’s stores into “town square” environments.
The strategic shift in focus was attributed, at least in part, to flagging device sales. By late in Ms. Ahrendts’ tenure, Apple had reached a point of saturation with its die-hard customers. Furthermore, new devices being released were no longer as revolutionary as those launched the previous decade. Some products, like last year’s $1000 iPhone X, have also gotten prohibitively expensive.
Ms. Ahrendts’ once celebrated tenure at Apple has recently gotten criticism as some have noted flagging customer service and difficulty purchasing. Ms. Ahrendts, who left the company in April, dismissed her critics in a recent Bloomberg interview and touted “Today at Apple” as one of her great successes.
In January, Apple announced the introduction of 50 new sessions in a press release.
- After two years, Today at Apple is outgrowing Apple Stores – 9 to 5 Mac
- Will Apple get customers to go back to school? – RetailWire
- Apple’s Ahrendts sees a bigger purpose than just selling for retail – RetailWire
- Apple’s Ex-Retail Chief Brushes Off Criticism, Says ‘I Know the Facts’ – Bloomberg
- Apple announces new Today at Apple sessions – Apple
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How can Apple mitigate the conflict between shoppers and learners given the limited space within its stores? Do you see hosting classes as off-site locations or creating a separate physical store concept for “Today at Apple” as viable alternatives?