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TidBITS Reader Thoughts at Ahrendts-Era Apple Stores



When the first Apple Store opened in 2001, it was a bold move on Apple's part. Apple was not juggernaut it is now, and computer stores were a dime a dozen. TidBITS reader Marilyn Matty recalled her first impression, which was not uncommon at that time:

Way back when Steve Jobs announced that Apple would open stores, I ranted and raved [on TidBITS Talk] about what a stupid idea it was because it was a Gateway, CompUSA, etc., etc. shop within a few blocks in all major metro area. One day or two later, I needed a new mouse, and finding some Apple products like searching for the Holy Grail in a CompUSA, and the sellers didn't even know where any Mac or Mac related was, even less to have something. to make suggestions. It was maybe 3-4 beat up Macs that were not set up to try out. So I changed quickly.

Under the bold leadership of Ron Johnson, who left in 201

1, Apple Stores became the largest US retail success story in a generation. (Johnson couldn't do the same magic as CEO of JC Penney, where he quickly crashed and burned). Apple Stores is not only the most profitable retail business, but they have survived almost every competition, such as Circuit City, CompUSA and Gateway Store. For the 500 million customers they serve each year, Apple Stores is the company's public face for both sales and service.

Johnson's replacement, John Browett, was one of Tim Cook's first major appointments as CEO, and his cost-saving and sudden retirement after just a few months was the cause of the alarm (see " Apple Management Shakeup aimed at enhancing collaboration "November 1, 2012). It took Cook nearly two years to replace Browett with Ahrendts, who was then CEO of the luxury fashion retailer Burberry (see " Why Angela Ahrendts is a perfect fit for Apple ," October 16, 2013).

Ahrendts oversaw the merger of online and physical retail, redesigned by Apple Stores, and Today at the Apple Initiative. But most importantly, she kept the economic juggernaut rolling. In 2016, Apple single charts on sale per square meter peaked a key retail metric and collected $ 5546 for every square meter of retail. The next highest competitor, Murphy USA (a gas station chain closely linked to Walmart locations), brought only $ 3721 per square meter.

In many ways, Ahrendts seemed to be warming up. She had just introduced her "town square" vision for Apple Stores in 2016, and it is far from being fully implemented. Therefore, it came as something of a shock to hear that she would go down – see " Apple Retail Chief Angela Ahrendts Leaving in April ," (February 7, 2019).

We decided to ask for your thoughts on what Apple Stores has been under Ahrendts, and we were surprised that your opinions were split fairly evenly between improvement, no change and decline. 38.9% of respondents said they had improved, 34.7% said they hadn't noticed much difference, and 26.3% said they were getting worse.

  A map of our Apple Store survey results.

A number of people shared their thoughts in the comments and some patterns arose:

  • Overall, many were generally positive about Apple Stores: "I think the stores are pretty amazing really. The rest of the market is just peeling in comparison," says Tommy Weir "One of Ahrend's great achievements was to overtake Apple's online store as well as the physical outlet. The electronic decision-making processes and purchasing processes are much better user experiences, ”says Marilyn Matty.
  • But Apple is struggling with the scale of its customers. We heard about long waiting times to receive help or even buy products. "A customer ready to buy is told to wait almost an hour. This was in January, well after the holidays," said Marc Zeedar. Diane D. voted together and said, "You can no longer enter the way they open the doors and hope to be seen quickly."
  • The quality of the Genius Bar staff has declined. "Genius was a whisper of navigating the decision tree software on the iPad in the hands, but totally ignorant or unaware of anything else," said Will M. Tommy Weir was equally impressed: "I gave up on knowledge after my then ten-year-old explained sip to zoom to an employee. "

Like the Apple Store creator Ron Johnson recently told Yahoo Finance ," In a sense, they're kind of victims of their own success. The stores are so popular, the real The challenge is to deal with the amount of traffic coming. "It will be interesting to see how Deirdre O & # 39; Brien a 30-year-old Apple veteran who takes over from Ahrendts, will tackle the challenges facing the company's retail business .


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