Will Apple get customers to go back to school?
Less than a year after Apple began dropping the word “Store” from its storefronts to drive home the impression that its retail outlets are for more than just buying products, the company has launched an initiative to draw customers in — not with merchandise, but with an opportunity to learn something.
Apple launched the “Today at Apple” initiative in all 495 Apple stores (271 in the U.S.) in May, according to Recode. The program expands the existing learning workshops already available at some Apple stores, offering classes that instruct customers on using iPads, Macs and other Apple products to take on creative tasks like drawing, painting and making music.
Customers can sign up for the free classes by visiting the “Today at Apple” portion of the Apple website and choosing from listings at stores in their area. Apple has hosted free “how to” classes for some time. These will continue under the new plan, with upgrades. But the new offerings go beyond simple guidance on using products and apps to school students on such areas as coding and design. And Tuesday night sessions, according to Recode, will be dedicated to courses designed for teachers.
Under the guidance of Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of retail, Apple has taken numerous steps to upgrade the look and feel of its stores. In addition to the name change, prototype stores opened last year with such features as floor-to-ceiling screens and wooden tables to replace the familiar white. In these stores, an area called “The Avenue” offers customers the opportunity to walk past rows of wooden displays to try out different products.
Ms. Ahrendts has made statements likening her vision for the Apple store to a “town square” where people can gather. The addition of in-store classes appears to be in keeping with this concept.
When Ms. Ahrendts’ came on at Apple in mid-2014, her background as the CEO of Burberry led to speculation that the impending redesign of the Apple store would be based on a luxury look and feel meant to appeal to customers of the recently introduced Apple Watch. But initiatives like “Today at Apple” indicate that the concept of the redesigned store was not pegged to the wearables market.
In addition to the store redesign and move toward a “town square” feel, Apple has introduced three new store-level positions to its job hierarchy — Pro, Creative Pro and Technical Expert.
- Apple is overhauling hundreds of stores to try to create the ‘modern-day town square’ – ReCode
- “Today at Apple” bringing new experiences to every Apple Store – Apple
- Apple opens next-generation stores – RetailWire
- Why is Apple dropping ‘Store’ from the name of its stores? – RetailWire
- Will new retail associate roles drive Apple’s sales even higher? – RetailWire
- Apple’s retail boss wants Apple stores to resemble ‘town squares’ – Business Insider
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will holding classes create a meaningful, sustained draw to the Apple store? Are there other areas of retail where the strategy of holding classes would serve as a customer draw?