Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) reportedly held meetings with all its retail store employees over the weekend. The company introduced a series of sweeping changes to its Apple Store operations, including new positions, new store layouts and a new corporate credo employees are expected to follow.
All of this is on top of news from The Verge late last week that the name of Apple’s retail locations is also changing, from “Apple Store” to simply “Apple.”
Mac rumor sites Apple Insider and MacRumors both published posts on the Apple Store shakeup on Sunday, citing “multiple retail sources.”
What’s Happening with the Apple Store?
According to MacRumors, the changes fall under three broad categories: new and renamed positions, a new credo and new store layouts.
In terms of staff positions, AAPL appears to be introducing a hierarchy. The new positions created are “Pro,” “Creative Pro” and “Technical Expert.” The first two designate Apple Store sales employees who have proven to be the most knowledgeable about the company’s products and services, earning a title that reflects this expertise.
“Technical Expert” is a new customer support position below the current “Genius,” able to provide low level technical support such as troubleshooting and mobile repairs.
Many other existing Apple Store positions have been re-named. For example “Business Specialist” is now “Business Expert.”
The company also re-named areas of the Apple Store layout. What was once the “Red Zone” (the sales floor) is now the “Product Zone.” What has been referred to as “Back-of-House” (or where the Inventory and Operations teams work) is now called “Backstage.”
Finally, the company has updated the credo it expects its Apple Store employees to follow. The full credo is six paragraphs long, but the opening sets the tone for what follows:
“We are here to enrich lives. To help dreamers become doers, to help passion expand human potential, to do the best work of our lives.”
Why Shake Up the Apple Store?
In the U.S., Apple Stores have consistently led other retailers in sales per square foot, so why mess with a good thing?
Well, a number of factors are at play.
In the past, AAPL has had problems retaining Apple Store employees. The new roles with recognition of seniority may help to retain valuable experienced staff. There also is a clear effort to streamline the troubleshooting and repair process, especially in mobile. That will be a competitive advantage that Apple undoubtedly will leverage in an effort to boost weak iPhone sales.
And in terms of any changes to layout of Apple Stores — and the change to re-naming them as “Apple” — even the retail leader needs to stay fresh. Consumers are fickle, and with rivals like Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) emulating the current Apple Store setup, tweaking the design helps keep consumers interested and keep AAPL a step ahead of the competition.
The Apple Store represents more than just mere ‘retail” presence for Apple. The company’s products are sold by virtually every big-box retailer, and its iPhones are front and center in every wireless carrier’s stores. The importance of Apple Stores — and something that’s more critical than ever — is the opportunity to introduce consumers to Apple’s other products in the most favorable setting possible. It’s a showroom for the Apple TV, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac computers. This is Apple’s best chance to convince consumers to buy into the Apple ecosphere in general. That pushes revenue into other lines of business … not just the iPhone.
So don’t be surprised when Apple shakes up the Apple Store, even while it’s doing blockbuster business. It’s more important now than ever to get the customer experience to the point of perfection.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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