Angela Ahrendts looks to revive Apple Retail Stores’ lagging sales

“While Apple’s storefronts remain the envy of the retail world, sales have flattened as the stores undergo a global growth spurt,” Julia Love reports for The Mercury News. “Using one key measure in the retail industry, the stores generated $4,589 in sales per square foot in fiscal year 2014 — still better than any other brand, but down 23 percent from the $5,971 per square foot logged in 2012, according to research firm Customer Growth Partners.”

“The Apple Store lost a bit of its glow as it went more than a year without a leader after a controversial chief’s ouster in 2012,” Love reports. “The blockbuster launch of the iPhone 6 has given the stores a boost, but Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s newly anointed retail head, will be charged with driving bigger gains, analysts say.”

“And while e-commerce and sales from other vendors bolster its bottom line too, the stores are critical to Apple’s continued growth and ability to dazzle consumers, said Tom Mainelli, a vice president at technology research firm IDC,” Love reports. “Mainelli expects the gains to roll over into next year with the Apple Watch, Apple’s first brand-new product since the iPad, set for an early 2015 release. Offered in two sizes and three collections, the timepiece is a gadget that customers will likely want to try on before taking the plunge.”

Read more in the full article here.

70 Comments

  1. I used to visit the local Apple Store whenever I was at the mall, but not so much any more. I hate to sound like a crotchety old man, but with the store is full of teens hogging all of the gear – making it nearly impossible to shop – I’ve stopped going. It simply isn’t a pleasant experience any more.

    1. My biggest problem with the stores is this stupid ass queue system they insist on using. You walk in. You’re put in a queue. You wait. And wait. And wait… This happens every time I buy something online and use the in store pickup option. WTF. I’ve just spent $2600 on a MacBook Pro yet I’m forced to stand around and wait. Apple store employees running around with their faces buried in an iPad is not a good thing. They need to go back to treating customers like human beings.

      1. Spot on.

        Some clueless chick who cannot figure out Facebook on her iPhone gets more time than someone looking to drop thousands on a Pro setup and has to wait, only to get canned answers as useless as Apple online Q&A.

    2. Yes, the mall rats have invaded some store locations and it is not a pretty sight.

      We need adults to supervise these kids and if a parent is absent, store employees must insure a superlative shopping experience for ALL the customers.

      Unfortunately, many Apple store employees are close in age to the mall rats or just out of college and don’t relate to the older customers.

      Head of each store and manger on duty should be 40 years or preferably older to keep the kids in line.

      The younger generation is the most rude, selfish and has no sense of respect or shopping decorum. And in some cases the boomer parents are just as bad.

    1. True.

      But your Apple cheerleading one-liners aside, you have not offered anything to identify or fix the problems in Apple stores.

      For whatever reason, suspect you are just not up to it, NOW or EVER.

      1. M2S, just what problem are you trying to fix. Do you believe he anal….yst???

        After all they have been saying Apple is doomed forever. One day they will be right (I hear the sun blows in about 5 billion year, right?)

        And we all know that for Apple to be successful, it must sell more each quarter, at an ever increasing rate, and that thought must be what drives Apple. right? /s

        1. Did you just read mine and miss all the comments detailing the declining experience in Apple stores?

          Did you not know about the Apple Store executive shuffle in Cupertino?

          Don’t waste my time.

        1. Laugh, laugh all you want Apple cheerleader. That’s all you got. You have nothing substantial to offer to make Apple better. Totally blind to their shortcomings and I hope they pay you well for your nearsighted one line posts. Have a nice day, fanboy número uno.

    1. But, with bigger stores, the sales per square foot would likely decrease and you would see a lot more articles like this one. /s

      Apple just needs to follow its mantra and do the right things to maximize the consumer experience. If Apple begins to worry about “sales per square foot” as a guide for its corporate policies, then it will have lost its way and fallen victim to the trap that Steve Jobs warned about in an interview many years ago – putting marketing and sales in charge. Microsoft went with the “sales bozo” for many years, and look where that company ended up – numerous failed R&D efforts and reboots and $B wasted on acquisitions in a vain attempt to purchase the mojo that the company had squandered.

      Ahrendts needs to focus on improving the Apple Store experience for its customers – open floor plans, lots of hardware to explore, and a sufficient number of pleasant, informed, and helpful employees. If she does that and Apple engineering takes care of the new/upgraded product side of things, then sales will be fine.

      Incidentally, has anyone considered the impact of online sales and third party sales on Apple Store sales?

      1. Rose colored glasses, much?

        Empty bland platitude advice not addressing any substantive real issues plaguing Apple stores.

        Go back to your shiny Apple toys you got for Christmas.

        1. contrarian, I say you are right. We need to listen more to the anal…yst who tell us why Apple must push for the bucks and only exist to make the most possible money….right now…

          You know, like Dell did. And we all know how well that worked for Dell, right? /s

          1. Your sarcasm may make you and other Apple fanboys feel good and that’s great — salute!

            But the big picture you and other supporters miss is due to turmoil at the executive level of Apple, the dust up over union organizing, clearly, the store experience has declined.

            Deal with it.

            Just sayin’ …

            1. That’s not what we’re talking about.

              The article brings up the fact that the year-over-year sales-per-square-foot declined, interprets it to be a problem, and suggests that Ahrendts do what Browet did — try to increase the per-square-foot revenue of stores (focusing on numbers).

              Eldernorm is correct in suggesting that the only correct way to address any possible problem with Apple Retail (if there is one) is to focus on customer experience; in a way, keep it consistent with the general Apple philosophy, rather than figuring out how and where to save money (in order to increase profits).

              As for the store experience declining, that may well be the case, and it is likely the consequence of Browett focusing on saving money and increasing profit, rather than improving actual customer experience (and the revenues will eventually come).

            2. That’s not what we are talking about? Get real.

              We are talking about the myriad of reasons why the stores are underperforming.

              Fanboys can blame it on store expansion square footage. What a crock! I thought larger square footage meant more customers, more devices to sell and more profits.

              Pick your head up out of your arse and only then will you realize the management of Apple stores has been dysfunctional at best for a couple years.

              Man, the arrogance and ignorance of Apple fanboys never ceases to amaze me. Eyes wide shut.

            3. You don’t really want to read what doesn’t line up with your own thinking.

              None of the “fanboys” here is claiming what you think they are claiming. The data says that one common measurement (dollars of revenue per square foot of retail space) is declining. Most of the “fanboys” are expressing a concern that if this metric is used as a reason to begin narrow focus on increasing that particular metric (dollars per square foot), it is entirely likely that the more important property of Apple Retail, the one that is a bit more difficult to consistently and reliably quantify (customer experience) will continue its decline. After all, that is exactly what Browett set out to do (reduce operational cost of retail while increasing per-square-foot revenue; we now know the results).

              The point is, everyone here is more-or-less advocating the same thing: DO NOT look at revenue per square foot as absolute metrics of Apple Retail performance; make sure you focus on customer experience and fix that first, regardless of necessary investment in order to fix it.

              Addressing the under-performing revenue-per-square-foot indicator is the wrong way to fix Apple Retail. I’m sure you will one day come to understand that.

            4. I’ll acknowledge you have some good suggestions.

              But I have not missed the point of metrics compared to income.

              Obviously, too many here just don’t understand.

          1. The product is Apple products, not a retail store. There is no magic in the Apple Stores and some people may get a vicarious thrill in visiting one, but ultimately it is about the product.

            I’ve been there and done that. Apple stores are not new nor innovative. A bad experience can turn people off but I guarantee if Apple didn’t have products people wanted, they would be just as empty as Microsoft stores.

            1. Spare me. I helped build a retail computer sales organization and did Apple stores 20 years before Apple. I’m not speaking out of my anonymous ass like you being contrarian because you don’t know better.

  2. Want to make the Apple stores better? Hire smarter people, and train the Mac Geniuses better. Go back to the old way of training Mac Geniuses. When I went through Mac Genius training, I was sent to Cupertino for 2 weeks. I learned how to repair all of Apple’s hardware that was out at the time, and I learned from very talented trainers. Every time I go to the Genius Bar to drop off a repair for one of my customers, I have to sit there and bite my tongue to keep from correcting all of the incorrect information that spews forth from the so-called “Geniuses”. Some of them are really great, but a lot of them are anything but “Mac Geniuses”. Improve the stores’ service after the sale, and you build long lasting customer relationships. That is what I was taught when I worked for Apple many years ago.

    1. Yes, the quality of the Genius experience suffered a downgrade over the years. I have experienced shoddy advice on my last trip. Guy was rude and overtly on a clock rushing me through. Years ago the experience was excellent and I felt amazed and satisfied.

      Waiting in Q’s does not bother me. It is the modern day equivalent to a busy weekend register at the grocery store or registers on Black Friday.

      Faces buried in iPads is the way they do business in Apple stores. But I understand it can totally absorb the employee to the detriment of human interaction and customer service. Like an aloof tech kid shuffling customers through the mill without the personal touch. This is what was lost on my recent trips in addition to unsupervised kids hogging test units.

      So, how did we get here for the Genius and employee experiences to race downhill? Victim of their own success? Lost their way because of lack of cohesive management at the top? Or, lack of enforceable business STANDARDS?

      All of the above. Now add another factor: Unions. The rift between store employees infiltrated by union supporters has torn the workforce apart in some stores splashing reports in the media. Torn may be too harsh, tested then.

      Simple fixes: Hire adults to run the stores, make sure Genius employees are routinely trained and tested, enforce customer service standards, put a clock on the employees to engage and service the customers in a personal fashion and sh*tcan employee trouble makers for a unified workforce.

      :^}

    2. They hire hipsters with about 5 minutes worth of Mac experience these days. I am not sure how Apple HR sorts new hires, but they are not getting the people they need.

      What I see populating the floor at the Apple Store is interchangeable with the people working at fill in the blank store in some random mall. Their technical knowledge is about as random of that as well.

      1. Apple can afford to send EVERY pre-qualified genius candidate to Cupertino Boot Camp. Make it 3-4 weeks since there’s alot more to know now compared to the MacPlus-8100’era.
        I stood at a table in the local Apple store & heard an Apple employee answer a shopper’s question with such BULLSHIT, I stepped up and explained the differences between 2 versions of the iPad. There’s no excuse for not saying “Let me find out for you.”
        Sure hope Ahrendts reads these posts and then acts on them.
        The people on the sales floor should have to take a INTERACTVE training video on the history of the Apple product line. most have NO Context with which to relate to customers from the Pre-MacBook Air era.

    1. Excuse me, Apple Apologist.

      But the reason Apple stores have increased square footage is to meet consumer demand. NO???

      More space, more products and more profits. RIGHT???

      You and other apologists have confirmed larger space does not equal larger profits. But you don’t GRASP the reason WHY.

      The answer is turmoil at the top and trickle down poor management of stores is the primary reason for declining profits.

      But you want to blame it on a ruler, sheesh … whatever.

  3. At best I’d go in to look then buy online, especially when buying a Mac because I always customise mine so they wouldn’t normally be available in store. It wouldn’t surprise me if the showroom element of them has increased.

  4. Apple has increased the size of a number of its stores over the years, as noted above, some have doubled or more than doubled in size, and they are still crowded.. I am sure a number of places would like this problem.

    The queue system, while not perfect, at least insures they know you are there and you will have someone help you.. It also allows for allocation of the personnel in the store, so that customers will get assistance. I’ve walked in and made off the shelf purchases and got help promptly to check out. I don’t have any complaints.. other than perhaps I wish somethings were discounted every once in a while..

  5. Look, play and buy online.
    Apple could track shop visits via wifi and compare with sales online after a visit to get a better idea of their effectiveness.

    Its also losing sales to all the other outlets and online that sell for less than the RRP. Particularly as the after sales, extended warranty and ability to seek help from an Apple store is based upon purchase date and not whether it was bought in an Apple store.

    They need to be different to attract the spenders – not just the kids playing with stuff.

  6. The Apple Store has become a Hipster infested hangout with little to attract those already invested in the ecosystem.

    Before it became an iPhone showroom you could go to the Apple Store to browse and learn about accessories and 3rd party software. You could get a minute with someone at the Genius Bar who actually had first hand knowledge of stuff and could lay out your options for upgrading a Mac or finding the right software for your needs.

    That is all gone. Company line answers from Ken and Barbie Hipster are the order of the day and forget finding out anything useful or getting boxed software or third party accessories you cannot find cheaper elsewhere.

    Only go there if I absolutely have to and that is not very often.

    1. Without repeating, you have summed up perfectly and totally why I have abandoned the once anticipated and magical visits to Apple stores. The parallel Disney feel good consumer experience is gone.

      Used to be an anticipated special event, but not anymore. The magic needs to be restored.

  7. The whole John Browett affair was the biggest mistake Tim Cook’s made since he began as CEO, but if it took that fiasco to end up with Angela Ahrendts onboard, it was worth the suffering.

    While visiting my nearest Apple Store a few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a long-time AS employee (opened the store more than seven years ago), who told me they hear from Ms. Ahrendts on at least a weekly basis, while Mr. Browett rarely was in contact with the store employees. This employee expressed optimism regarding Ms. Ahrendts steering Apple retail and said she’d already made a positive difference.

      1. And you snide comment is based on what, exactly? I don’t know what you have against Ahrendts, but her record is good and she deserves some time for her policies to begin have a positive effect on Apple retail.

        1. Snide, yes.

          But you completely miss the point of whether the person is QUALIFIED considering the résumé background.

          But wait, I’m wrong. Someone posted Apple is now a fashion company and building runways in the spaceship. So this is a perfect fit!

          Glad to read you and Arnie are warm and fuzzy about a long-time Apple employee positive unattributed comment. Remember, you are not fools.

          /s

          1. To be contrarian, and not sarcastic …

            Angela is not a “fashion” retailer, but a product marketer and she has continually shown she can take products to market.

            She knows how to build teams and engage customers. No matter who Apple put in the Apple Store position, various people will bitch. She’s getting on with her work.

            1. Thoughtful response.

              I never said she was only a fashion maven.

              Let’s hope her experience fixes the issues in the present day Apple stores after years of poor management from the top to the bottom.

      1. I agree. This particular Apple Store employee is a long-termer, so I value his insight.

        Oh, and as an aside, he told me about Steve Wozniak making an unannounced visit to this store a few years ago and how all the employees got excited.

        1. That’s impossible (that the employees got excited)! Based on the snide comments here, all these Apple Store employees and Geniuses are young hipsters who know nothing about Apple and its history; there is no chance they would have known who is Wozniak…

    1. The shuffling of Apple executives under Cook’s watch is a troubling pattern for sure. Forstall and other competent execs — gone. The jury is still out on the new hire. Fingers crossed.

      1. I have mixed feelings about Forstall’s departure – he was clearly talented and intelligent, but there was apparently significant discord between him and Jony Ive. So, Forstall was sent packing. I trust Mr. Cook did what he needed to do for the longterm health of Apple, Inc. Like I’ve written before, Forstall’s been raked over the coals. It’s time to give forgive him for whatever perceived “sins” he committed and recognize he was important to development of iPhone and iPad.

        1. I have mixed feelings as well.

          But as you point out the conflict was clearly between Jony and Scott.

          Read on another rumor comment forum Scott was redesigning the icons for iOS7 as a lighter version of iOS6. If accurate, Scott was simply carrying on Steve’s taste and vision trying to work competently under new leadership directives.

          Well, guess that backfired and Tim picked Jony’s flat lifeless approach over the lite version to make his mark.

          Making your mark is great. But not when you take a step back IMHO. Losing a highly competent executive over the look of icons is just WRONG.

          1. I don’t have enough information to make a judgment as to whether or not Cook was right to can Forstall.

            Scott did a great job during Keynote presentations and seemed most comfortable on-stage. If I remember correctly, it was he who pushed iPhone to run on a variation of OS X, a brilliant choice!

            1. If it were up to me, and I had to choose one over the other, I’d have done exactly what Tim Cook did.

              Jony Ive is one of a kind and vital to Apple.

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