If you’re a regular reader of the Celect blog, you know we’ve championed the idea of retailer’s embracing a “store of future” concept for some time now. In just the past few months, we’ve covered Staples’ attempt to reinvent itself as a shared working space for Millennials, Adidas’ effort to increase foot traffic by way of 3D printing sweaters, and lululemon’s foray into community building. And while we don’t want to harp on the subject (you get it, stores of the future are, well, the future), news out of Cupertino can’t go unmentioned.
According to a report in Engadget, Apple is retooling their brick-and-mortar stores to minimize its product showcase and emphasis “community space.” The company is redesigning its 100 largest stores and launching “Today at Apple” workshops where in-store creatives will host free sessions based on Apple tools and Apple devices. There will also be 90-minute “Studio Hours” that customers bring in their own projects for advice and critique, music and photography labs, and a Kids' Hour with programmable Sphero robots. Additionally, bigger stores are changing their Genius Bars into "Genius Groves," which include, among other things, actual, live trees because, you know, Apple.
“A lot of the big online guys have said they’re opening stores. Amazon’s investing in stores. Google’s investing in stores. ... Starbucks figured it out, you know? Being a gathering place for – right? ‘Meet me at Starbucks. And you know, I’ve told the teams, ‘I’ll know we’ve done a really, really great job if the next generation, if Gen Z says, “Meet me at Apple. Did you see what’s going on at Apple today?” said Angela Ahredents, Apple’s senior vice president of retail in an interview with CBS News.
The move follows q4 reports of revenue shrinking 9.8 percent to $46.9 billion and profit falling 23 percent to $9 billion year over year; the first such drop since 2001. The decline was due in large part to weak sales of the iPhone, which dropped 13 percent year over year to 45.5 million units, but most Apple hardware was affected. Mac sales declined 17 percent to $5.7 billion due to a 14 percent decline in unit sales, and the iPad saw unit sales drop 6 percent. It appears not even mighty Apple is immune to the retail slowdown of 2017.
What’s it mean for me?
The idea of retail as a community space is nothing new, and as we said earlier, it’s something we’ve been referencing for a while now. But while it’s one thing to see the likes of lululemon embrace the “store of the future,” it’s another thing entirely to see Apple, once near-synonymous with retail innovation, follow the trend.
And that’s it on stores of the future. We promise.