Why is Apple dropping ‘Store’ from the name of its stores?

Discussion
Image: Apple, Apple Union Square
Aug 23, 2016

The Apple Store is no more. Recent store openings have seen Apple drop “Store” from the name as part of a subtle branding effort.

According to MacRumors, Apple sent a memo to retail personnel to let them know that it was dropping store from name of its stores. Now, stores are identified at their entrances as Apple with the name of the location such as Apple Union Square. The tech giant had previously removed store from its online site.

The name change may have to do with Apple’s recent moves to try and turn locations into more of a community hub incorporating more plants and places to sit for visitors and customers.

Apple’s newest generation stores developed under Angela Ahrdents include more wood and floor to ceiling screens that show product videos. An area within stores known as “The Avenue” includes items such as Beats headphones, speakers, Apple Watches and other accessories in displays that change seasonally. The Verge described it as Apple attempting to give its retail business more of a boutique feel.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you understand why Apple dropped Store from its retail banner’s name? What do you think it is hoping to accomplish with the change? Will it be successful?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"This strikes me as a simple attempt to be mindful of vocabulary that is becoming obsolete."
"On the other hand, their mall location that once stood for innovation is now where I go to get things fixed; usually not a pleasurable experience."
"The idea of the word “store” is indeed becoming obsolete. "

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30 Comments on "Why is Apple dropping ‘Store’ from the name of its stores?"


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Tom Redd
Guest

The drop is smart. First, when you walk in the door you know it is a store. I always wondered why Apple had to tell us it was a store. It is a location. A hang out, a union point for Apple freaks.

The change will make no huge performance impact and it will make location promotion easier — say Apple Union Square vs. Apple Store at Union Square. Easier in simple words to know the Apple store location. They may stop saying it but humans (non-Millennials) will still say, “I am headed over to the Apple store for my class on how to use the keyboard.”

Jasmine Glasheen
BrainTrust
Jasmine Glasheen
Principal Writer & Content Strategist, Jasmine Glasheen & Associates
5 years 4 months ago

It is true that, for millennials, less is more with wording. I blame it on Prince changing his name to a symbol during our developmental years. Bonus points if it’s in a language nobody else understands.

Chris Petersen, PhD.
Guest

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

When you generate more revenue and profit per square foot, I’m not sure that you need to be bound by the name “store.” The Apple logo is in itself iconic. Consumers need don’t anything else to navigate to an Apple location.

The new term being bandied about is the “unstore.” Unstore is a new descriptor for “places” where you can experience products, as well as click and collect. With rumors of the Apple vehicle, perhaps this new “unstore” will become a “dealership.”

Bottom line, why be bound by labels? Kudos to Apple for shrugging off a moniker that it does not need … and increasingly does not apply in an omnichannel world.

Max Goldberg
Guest

Does it really matter? Everyone knows that these are stores. They sell Apple products. Having the word “store” was a little redundant.

Keith Anderson
BrainTrust

This strikes me as a simple attempt to be mindful of vocabulary that is becoming obsolete.

Much of the retail lexicon is declining in relevance. Retailers and brands organize around concepts like channels, stores, shoppers, consumers and categories — but the boundaries of these traditional ideas are blurring more every day.

Apple may not have clarity on what comes after “stores,” but they seem conscious that their physical locations are something different.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Guest

“If it walks like a duck … it’s a duck.” But the Apple locations are moving beyond being stores, browsing locations and service depots to a place where community can connect. My experience (being an Apple user) is that the staff count at Apple locations is proportioned to almost guarantee that patrons do not get into conversations with each other, which is not conducive to building and leveraging the community of users. The new format with relaxation areas is, I suspect, aimed not just at reducing wait time anxiety and frustration, but connecting those who are/can be brand ambassadors.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

Lyle, your comment that “the staff count at Apple locations is proportioned to almost guarantee that patrons do not get into conversations with each other, which is not conducive to building and leveraging the community of users.” is most insightful. I hadn’t thought of that before. You’re right, customers don’t talk to each other so no community is developed … OTHER than signaling that one is an Apple user. That seems to be enough, i.e., just having a reason to be there is a treasured identity. That may be the pinnacle of customer connection found nowhere else other than perhaps a Ferrari dealership.

Frankly, I don’t want to listen to other customers whine about their Mac or iPhone problems … though I’m happy to whine about mine!

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Ian, you make a subtle but critical point here. Millennials, for example, have developed a form of nonverbal, digital community based on proximity — geographic or ideological. Doubt this? Go to any Pokemon Go stop and observe a nonverbal digital community at work. The kind of complex relationships that community is built on don’t necessarily require traditional signals of socialization. Just being there means you are in the club.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

Exactly!

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Guest

Ryan and Ian: you are really onto a key point about “being in the club.” Who doesn’t empathize with the scene from Pretty Woman when she returns, shopping bags in hand, from the store that didn’t treat her as being in the club? The American Express “castaway” commercial of the man being restored to his former well-coifed self makes the point about “the club” well. Does it say something more that consumers have far fewer loyalty cards in their wallet and apps on their phone than the stores they frequent?

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff
Patricia Vekich Waldron
Contributing Editor, RetailWire; Founder and CEO, Vision First
5 years 4 months ago

Apple has always been ahead of the curve in connecting with customers through it’s products, offerings and stores. This latest iteration, as Lyle points out, is about taking Apple’s community from the digital world into the physical one.

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

Apple owns a unique positioning in the consumer’s mind. Unfortunately, the word store implies a place where people try to sell you something. By dropping “Store” and adding their site’s location to the marquee they remove that connotation and add a sense of being local versus being part of a multi-billion dollar company. I am not sure the changes will make any difference to Apple’s legion of advocates.

Kim Garretson
Guest
5 years 4 months ago

If I’m not mistaken, Ahrdents is following the same evolution as Burberry. If you look at a store page like Burberry Chicago, you see the store has evolved into more of an interactive community gathering place.

Lee Kent
Guest

I never understood why they had “Store” in the name in the first place, but I don’t think removing it will make any difference. How many people look at the label above the door? They call the brand what the retailer tells them to call it.

Smart move? I guess so. It makes sense, but is it worth the expense? The brand has already been branded.

But that’s just my 2 cents.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

I can only guess, because Angela hasn’t spoken to me directly. In keeping with many previous discussions that even this panel has had, the stores of old need to become more entertaining destinations. If you look at an Apple store (you should pardon the expression) it is not only a selling place, it is a gathering place for Apple geeks. It is also a classroom for elementary school students. Apple may have more ideas in store (again, pardon me) for these locations that are outside the traditional “store” environment. Wait and see. Something is definitely going on there and we have been subtly prepared to expect it.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

Looks like we’re all going to say basically the same thing. “Store” is redundant and old as most have pointed out, and dropping it adds to Apple’s cool-ness.

The most interesting thing in this thread is Lyle Bunn’s insightful observation, one I haven’t thought of before. I’ll add my thoughts to his submission above.

Anne Howe
Guest

Think about the origins of retail: community, experience, trade and gathering. These are the foundational elements of physical retail that the human mind has desire for. The idea of the word “store” is indeed becoming obsolete. The idea of an experience-based hub that serves as a community marketplace is exactly akin to the feeling one gets from being a part of the Apple franchise. A smart and timely move that is sure to be copied by other retailers as time goes on. Kudos to Apple for being brave and ahead of the pack.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust
Doug Garnett
President, Protonik
5 years 4 months ago

I don’t think it’s a badly destructive move but it also strikes me as silliness.

In fact, it’s getting very hard to shop at Apple.com because similar changes are taking place on the website. But as a consumer, when I want to go buy a product I go to the store. As they have obscured the store on their website it has become hard to find prices and places to browse options — to shop. And we need to remember that shopping is a very human activity that started the first time an ancient hunter chose one rock over another.

This move is reminiscent of why Ron Johnson didn’t make it at J.C. Penney’s — relying on a theory that simply isn’t reflective of consumer reality. Consumers like stores and understand that companies want to sell them products. The more honestly we treat them in the process the better our sales are. Ideas like this that are too clever for their own good may not hurt badly, but they definitely don’t help.

Brian Kelly
Guest
5 years 4 months ago

At the last earnings call, their description of the new store was less merchandise-focused and increasingly service-driven. I think its an internal signal.

I doubt many consumers will know or care.

Nothing to see here, move along …

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust
Doug Garnett
President, Protonik
5 years 4 months ago

It’s funny that they made that comment in their earnings call. Because in the last few months, my store experience has been that employees are putting up-sell pressure on customers. I’ve had two experiences where the employees went far out of their way to pitch me products that I didn’t want, told them I didn’t want, and yet they kept pitching.

Given Apple’s superb past, this can’t be anything but an intentional strategy to increase store revenue at risk of customer satisfaction. And it’s intensely “merchandise-focused” (unless in Apple Speak bugging customers with up-sells is considered “service”).

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

Apple gets it. Here’s the premise: we don’t have to go to stores anymore, we have to WANT to go to stores. The future of brick-and-mortar is not about “stack it high and let it fly,” it’s about giving the shopper reasons to come to the space OTHER than just buying stuff. Apple already excels at this strategy with their classes, informed associates and Genius Bar — they’re way ahead of the game and have been since day one.

Others executing the “store-as-space” strategy are Starbucks with their Roasteries and Urban Brands with their “Space” concept (see Space 24 in Austin) and even Nordstrom’s “Space” category is close. Well done, can’t wait for more to follow suit.

James Tenser
BrainTrust

So what was I missing? I just searched dozens of Apple place exterior pics on Google Images and I didn’t find the word “store” on any of them.

Too bad, because I was planning a snarky comment about how much money they’d save in signage. But no luck. The Apple is just the Apple and it has been just that from the beginning.

I suppose calling its walk-in locations “stores” was originally a signal to the investor community. Now that it’s clear the locations are as much about service delivery as product sales the word is at least redundant — at worst inaccurate.

This is a fine little press-release moment for the Apple folks, but I don’t think it changes a darned thing.

Shawn Harris
BrainTrust
Shawn Harris
Senior Director, Global Retail and Hospitality Strategy & Business Development, Turing.ai
5 years 4 months ago

It’s a simplification for CX, opening the door for a broader purpose to the locations. I’m sure coffee will show up in the larger formats.

Christopher P. Ramey
BrainTrust

Apple is a unique brand. “Store” was obviously not necessary.

On the other hand, their mall location that once stood for innovation is now where I go to get things fixed; usually not a pleasurable experience. “Store” is better than “phone repair.”

Everybody wants to build a community. It’s the new buzz phrase after we get tired of “experience.” But customers aren’t automatically a community. It’s fair to suggest that Apple already has a tribe. But a tribe doesn’t mean a community. My experience is Apple’s rigidity is inconsistent with building a community. Tribes overlook shortcomings. Communities lose interest.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest

I think this is a wise move on their part. Dropping “store” from the name on the building is not earth shaking; and possibly overdue. Adding the location name is smart. But is it going to make a difference? No.

Gajendra Ratnavel
Guest

Simplifying the identification of the brand! I love it. It’s also easier to say when communicating with people. Dropping the “store” forces people to use the location for identification so it’s more clear. For example, someone might say “Try the Apple Store” vs “Try the Apple Sherway Gardens.” The first is ambiguous.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust
Ken Morris
Managing Partner Cambridge Retail Advisors
5 years 4 months ago

Dropping the “store” from the name of Apple stores is a smart move from two perspectives.

First, calling a store a store is kind of awkward. You don’t see any other retailer branding their physical locations as store — Target Store, Walmart Store, Home Depot Store, etc. The extra word is unnecessary.

Secondly, Apple stores are much more than a store — they are an experience. Apple doesn’t want consumers think of their physical locations merely a place to purchase things, as it is truly a unique experience. It is a great example of what we call the theater of shopping. People go to Apple locations to enjoy the hip atmosphere, try the latest electronic devices, learn how to use their Apple products more effectively and sometimes buy products.

It is a clever move by Apple and I am just surprised it took so long.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

I’m not sure most people will even be aware of it … don’t they just look for the giant bitten apple? But, wow! What a testament to the power of the brand that something this — frankly — insignificant is a source of discussion.

Don Snyder
Guest
5 years 4 months ago

So, will they be dropping the word “Store” from the name “App Store” too?

This is more of a fait accompli than some sort a revolutionary move. Nobody says “I’m going to Starbucks Coffee Shop” or “McDonald’s Hamburgers.” Those are redundant. It was a more impressive move when they stopped calling themselves a computer company — but I think they’ll be stuck with the “Store” label by consumers UNTIL more of the strategy is revealed. This is likely the first in a series of larger moves intended to evolve the lowly storefront into more of a community gathering place. I’m betting we’ll see coffee shops and pubs and athletic clubs all under the Apple banner before they’re done. Perhaps even a trendy neighborhood with all those things wrapped in a community of iOS-driven “smart loft” living spaces.

Tom Dougherty
Guest

Language is important and often underestimated by marketers. It is the scaffolding upon which we all build meaning and place brands in our preferred set. Apple has been better at this than most brands. They demonstrated this thoughtfulness when the brand changed from Apple Computer to Apple Inc.

The old store concept is quickly passing away (much to the chagrin of retailers) and instead we are embracing portals to the brands. Apple, as a moniker for the old brick-and-mortar retail location, is the harbinger of the future. Smart. Very smart.

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Braintrust
"This strikes me as a simple attempt to be mindful of vocabulary that is becoming obsolete."
"On the other hand, their mall location that once stood for innovation is now where I go to get things fixed; usually not a pleasurable experience."
"The idea of the word “store” is indeed becoming obsolete. "

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