Apple announced last year that Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, will be joining the company as the Senior Vice President of retail and online stores. Ahrendts is now three weeks in to her stint and has already defined three major points of emphasis for the future of Apple stores — mobile payments, China and a revamped shopping experience.
Ahrendts is making organisational changes to make her vision of Apple retail a reality. Steve Cano, VP of Retail Stores, has moved to an international sales role, Wendy Beckman, head of retail in Europe, and Denny Tuza, China retail head, have been handed bigger responsibilities. Ahrendts will also be working to better integrate Apple’s online and offline stores, with the help of former Delta executive Bob Kupbens.
According to Apple employees with whom Ahrendts has shared her vision for the future of Apple retail, further growth in China is one of three critical pieces on which Ahrendts would like to focus. Having the head of China retail work with Ahrendts directly will assist her with this goal. Ahrendts is said to believe that the tastes of Chinese consumers are critical across the globe, not only in China, and Apple needs to focus on making its stores and retail marketing initiatives friendly to that growing sector of the world. Apple currently has ten stores in China and plans to reach a store count of thirty in the region by 2016.
Ahrendts has made a number of trips to Apple Stores around Apple’s campus, and has had many interactions with Apple Store managers all over the world, who describe her as “warm and genuine,” “honest,” and “passionate.”
The second area of interest for Ahrendts is mobile payments, and its role in the buying experience of an Apple customer. She wants to greatly improve the payment experience in retail stores as well as within Apple’s mobile apps, and blur the lines between the online and offline stores for a better end-user experience.
The third and final point of Ahrendts vision for Apple Stores is completely revamping the entire purchasing experience for Apple customers “from the point in which a customer finds the product he or she wants to purchase, to how they discuss the product with Apple Store employees, to how they pay for the product.”
Apple failed to realise that John Browett, former retail head at Apple, was a bad hire in terms of cultural fit, but Ahrendts seems to have fit in quite well with the Apple culture. Tim Cook had outlined that in the future, Apple Stores should drive more than 80 percent of iPhone sales, as opposed to the current 20 percent, and Ahrendts’ plans may very well be the key to achieving this goal.