Seeking to enhance Apple’s retail store divison and bring the customer experience to higher levels, new Apple Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores Angela Ahrendts is planning a fundamental restructuring of Apple’s retail stores as she prepares a series of new store openings across the globe for the second half of 2014 and first half of 2015…
Ahrendts previously informed key staff that she would be shaking up the Apple Retail executive ranks, and this new organizational restructuring further alters how stores are managed. Currently, all Apple Stores are organized into geographical regions. For instance, all stores in the San Francisco Bay Area (plus some stores in nearby states) are a single region while all stores in Texas could be another region.
Ahrendts, say sources briefed on the plans, is aiming to restructure stores based on sales volumes. This means that stores will now be grouped by how much of certain products they sell. This will heighten customer satisfaction and streamline Apple retail operations as now similar stores will have similar leadership and similar promotions. This move is not designed to institute John Browett-likely sales targets, but it is planned to create even more tailored experiences to individual stores.
Last week, in her first official letter to rank-and-file Apple retail store employees, Ahrendts said, “keeping the customer experience as simple as any other Apple product will also be critical as we expand into new markets, integrate our platforms, and develop new technologies,” and her move to further align similar stores based on sales and customer demographics, rather than based on geography, is part of that idea.
Ahrendts started her work at Apple on May 1st, and she has already moved former Apple Stores VP Steve Cano to a new international sales role, promoted international store heads Wendy Beckman and Deny Tuza to larger roles, and she has indicated her plans to revamp the end-to-end Apple Store sales experience, dive into the mobile payments world, and further promote the wants of the Chinese consumer.
Besides bringing the tailored Apple Store experience for China to Apple’s other stores across the globe, Ahrendts will oversee the opening of 20 more Apple Stores in China through 2016. According to sources with knowledge of Apple’s store opening schedule for the next year, four new Apple Stores are planned to open in China within the next several months. The Cupertino-based company is planning to open new stores in the regions of Shenyang and Central Hangzhou later this year, and new stores for East Hangzhou and East Chengdu are planned for even later this year or the first half of 2015. Apple already has 10 stores in China, but these new stores will make Apple’s products in what Tim Cook has called Apple’s “hypermarket” even more accessible.
In addition to new stores in China, Apple is planning to open up a new store in Mestre, Italy as soon later this year (or early next year). The city of Mestre is known as the heart of Venice and has the largest population of any city in the region. This popular, high-profile area will likely be a major boon for Apple Retail.
Of course, Apple is also readying multiple new stores for the United States. Sources say that Apple has begun seeking employees for new stores in Marlborough (Massachusetts), Virginia Beach (Virginia), Trumbull (Connecticut), and Manchester (New Hampshire). The new stores are all planned to open up in the second half of this year or in the first quarter of 2015, and most of them will be inside of malls rather than street locations.
In the much nearer future, Apple will be opening up a new store in Puerta de Sol, Spain on June 21st. Apple has already put up a banner and a website to promote the store. Various reports also indicate that new stores in Brazil, the Netherlands, and France are under construction.
Ahrendts visited Tokyo last week for the Omotesando store opening, and she promised employees that she will be visiting stores every few weeks. It is to be seen if Ahrendts will make her way to all of the aforementioned major new store openings, but it is abundantly clear that she has significant plans for taking Apple Retail into the future with the support of her colleagues across the globe.