Apple Retail Stores are expanding operations as the United States emerges from response to COVID-19, betting that a combination of strategies developed before and during coronavirus lockdowns will make its stores more popular than ever, Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s senior vice president of retail and people, told Reuters.
Apple is doing this as the retail industry works out what the post-pandemic future will look like, including consumers who have become used to ordering almost everything online.
For Apple, the answer is keeping what helped it through the pandemic, and doubling down on its pre-pandemic strategy of in-store events and experiences beyond shopping.
The express counters that popped up to help customers more efficiently pick up online orders, for example, will become regular features of Apple’s 500-plus stores around the world, all of which have reopened as of June 14.
“We’re looking at this moment right now as a way to really begin again, and begin again in every way,” O’Brien told Reuters as the company prepared on Thursday to open a new store at the renovated Tower Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, Apple’s second new U.S. retail outlet since the beginning of the pandemic.
During the pandemic, Apple re-worked many stores to have small express counters designed to facilitate pickups quickly but still give a personal touch, sometimes by following up online or by phone later to set up devices.
“The goal was really for speed, which is very different than what we usually experience in a retail store,” O’Brien said. “We want to make sure that in that experience that they can come in, quickly get the product they want. But we do want to make sure that we can also have a quick conversation with them to make sure that they have everything they need.”
MacDailyNews Take: Many lessons have been, and many more will be, learned by Apple and many others from the response to COVID-19.