Apple Watch Edition perks: 24/7 support, private 1-hour appointments, no lines

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After hiring a new team of fashion sales and marketing experts from Yves St. Laurent, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry, Apple has developed a unique Apple Store purchasing experience just for the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition, according to sources briefed on the launch plans. When a customer interested in the Apple Watch Edition enters the store, he or she will be given no-wait access to a dedicated Expert, who will provide a personalized “journey” from the beginning of the appointment until the end, as much as one hour later. There will even be a new option for at-home video conferencing rather than in-store personal setup. By design, it will be more “elegant” than the budget-focused experience Apple Watch Sport customers receive…

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Tim Cook reflects on the role of running a post-Steve Jobs Apple as Fortune names him “greatest leader”

Fortune has today named Tim Cook #1 on its list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, publishing an extensive profile of the Apple CEO in which he reflects on the lessons he’s learned in the time he’s been running the company.

Taking over from Steve was not, he said, an easy transition, and he gained a new appreciation for the way that the co-founder had shielded him and the rest of the team from public criticism.

What I learned after Steve passed away, what I had known only at a theoretical level, an academic level maybe, was that he was an incredible heat shield for us, his executive team. None of us probably appreciated that enough […] but he really took any kind of spears that were thrown. He took the praise as well. But to be honest, the intensity was more than I would ever have expected.

Claims that Apple had lost its ability to innovate under Cook’s leadership were, he said, something he had to learn to block out …  Read more

Apple’s sales overhaul for Apple Watch will focus on building trust, offering fashion views, upselling bands

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The job of Apple Retail Store employees will begin changing in profound ways next month. In order to showcase and sell the Apple Watch, retail employees will be trained to provide personal fashion and styling advice to customers, according to employees briefed on the plans. Until now, Apple Retail has been tasked with recommending iPads, iPhones and Macs with few styling options aside from limited color options.

Apple is pushing for retail employees to initiate conversations that build trust, enabling the employee to serve as a valued fashion advisor during the purchase process, similarly to how traditional watches are sold. Apple Watch sales training programs will take place for Apple retail staff over the course of the next two weeks, teaching entirely new sales techniques to encourage iPhone upgrades, assist with gifting, and guide customers in watch and strap choices.

Below, we detail how employees will provide fashion advice to customers and Apple’s multi-part plan for selling an Apple Watch.

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Apple Store retail plan for Watch: 15 min. appointments, 10+ try-on stations, Experts for Edition

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Apple will introduce several major initiatives to ready its retail stores for the Apple Watch’s launch in April, according to sources briefed on the upcoming changes. Starting on April 10th, Apple will allocate 15 minutes per customer for in-store try-on appointments, using 10 or more try-on stations to manage what’s expected to be a steady flow of customers interested in having hands-on time with the Watch. While customers will not necessarily be required to have an appointment, they will be time-limited and guided during the hands-on experience. Additionally, they will be given the opportunity to place a reservation at the time of try-on for a particular model, and make a follow-up appointment to pick the watch up during the April 24th launch date. Stores will also have launch day stock for walk-in appointments.

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Apple Watch’s retail sales pitch revealed: 3 key features, switch to iPhone, focus on bands

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With next week’s Apple Watch event fast approaching, Apple has revealed its retail selling strategies to employees, including a focus on “three key features” and a plan to encourage Watch customers to upgrade or switch to new iPhones. According to selling guidelines provided by sources within Apple Retail, Apple believes that “many customers have already decided they want an Apple Watch,” and will use the Watch to “position the benefits” of purchasing a compatible iPhone model. Retail employees have been told to ask customers about their iPhone usage habits, their favorite feature in iOS 8, and if they use health and fitness software on their iPhone…

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Apple to overhaul Genius Bar, changing appointments and using phones as pagers

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Apple will soon make a significant change to retail store Genius Bar appointments to improve the customer experience, according to several sources briefed on the upcoming shift. During the week of March 9th, Apple’s United States stores will launch a new initiative called “The new Concierge” that replaces traditional walk-in Genius Bar appointments. Currently, a customer seeking Genius Bar assistance can walk into an Apple Retail Store, explain the issue to a check-in assistant, and get a specific time to return for an appointment…

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Apple considering dedicated Apple Watch stores as it sets up Paris booth, London Selfridges Wonder Room

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Apple Watch hands-on table from September Media Event

According to multiple reports out of France, Apple is constructing a dedicated display for the upcoming Apple Watch in some upscale Paris-based retail outlets. The reports say that the size of the display is close to the length of a few small balconies and that Apple Retail Senior Vice President Angela Ahrendts has been directing the construction of the booth at retailer Galeries Lafayette on Champs Elysees. While these claims for France are still unconfirmed, sources have told us that Apple is considering constructing dedicated Apple Watch retail stores in the future if demand deems such outlets necessary…

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Live blog: Tim Cook at Goldman Sachs Tech Conference 2015

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As mentioned earlier today, Tim Cook is speaking momentarily at the 2015 Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference where his remarks will be live streamed, and below we’ll update with the latest from the Apple CEO. In previous years, Cook has used the platform to share insight about product performance including the Apple TV and tease future roadmaps as the CEO often does. Today’s appearance follows Apple’s record quarter for any company with more than $74 billion reported in revenue and over 74 million iPhones sold. Apple is also positioned to release the Apple Watch in April, Cook recently mentioned, so today’s remarks should be interesting. Read more

First Apple Store coming to Queens as new Brooklyn & Manhattan stores running behind

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Apple is preparing three major new Apple Stores for New York, with two of the stores reaching major new markets for the first time. Apple is developing the first stores for the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, while a new store for the Upper East Side of Manhattan on 74th Street and Madison is also in development, according to sources.

The first Apple Store for Queens will be located in the Queens Center Mall on the second floor. One source says this store will be the largest Apple retail outlet located in a New York mall to date, and Apple is expecting revenues for this store to even beat out some of its flagship counterparts located elsewhere in the state. The store is under construction and is expected to open later in 2015, but an official announcement may come sooner…

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Chongqing Apple Store unveiled as mural removed ahead of tomorrow’s opening

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We recently saw the mural Apple commissioned for one of its five new Apple Stores in China, and today the mural is down revealing the glass cylinder entrance of its Chongqing store, an apparent clone of its Shanghai store design. The store opens at 10am tomorrow.

The photos were posted on Taisy and appear to have originated from MacX. The interior of the store is very reminiscent of the spiral staircase in the iconic glass cube store on Fifth Avenue in New York (photo below) …

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Angela Ahrendts recruiting U.S. employees for China as new stores & initiatives revealed

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Apple Senior Vice President of Retail Angela Ahrendts is continuing to go all in on growth in China. In video messages to employees in recent days and weeks, Ahrendts has been recruiting employees from United States-based Apple Retail stores to relocate to China to help build up Apple’s retail efforts in the region. In a note to employees late last week, sources say that Ahrendts reported that approximately 200 Apple retail workers from the U.S. have already offered to make the move. Ahrendts added that the offer to move to China “has no expiration date because as the business grows, our needs will only become greater, so as your personal and professional life changes, just always keep China at the top of your mind, because we’re going to need you…”

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Westlake Apple Store officially opens its doors in Hangzhou, China (Photos)

Westlake Apple Store, Hangzhou, China

Apple CEO Tim Cook shared the grand opening photo via Twitter

Apple’s latest massive retail store—the Westlake Apple Store in Hangzhou, China—had its opening to the public today as officially scheduled. Naturally, much attention has been paid to what is now the largest Apple Store in Asia with Apple teasing the store’s grand opening earlier this month with a magnificent mural by artist Wang Dongling. You can see more shots from the scene around the new Westlake Apple Store below: Read more