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Angela Ahrendts’ Makeover of Apple Retail Outlined in New Profile

A new profile of Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts has been posted today by BuzzFeed News, providing a look into Ahrendts' move from Burberry, the inspiration for her approach to retail from late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and her partnership with Apple design chief Jony Ive. Ahrendts has been in the spotlight lately following her presentation during the iPhone X keynote event in September, where she explained Apple's new retail initiative, Today at Apple, and provided a sneak peek into upcoming locations around the world.

Ahrendts said that her approach to the new retail strategy began with an inspiration from Steve Jobs, comparing the brick-and-mortar locations as the retail team's "hardware" and the inner workings of the store -- like Today at Apple programs -- as the "software."

Image captured by Hoss Ghertassi via BuzzFeed News
Ahrendts’s approach to retail harkens back to the late founder Steve Jobs’ insistence on building “the whole widget” — in other words, constructing the look and feel of a device, as well as making the operating system and the processor that runs it, in order to fully optimize — and control — the entire user experience.

“This is our hardware,” she said, pointing to the Indianapolis store’s glass doors and indoor ficuses. ”Then you say, ‘What’s the software of the store? How do we turn it on?’ Because this unto itself is magnificent, but it's not just what it is, it's what it does,” referring to the new Today at Apple program, under which locations host events like photography workshops and coding classes.
Ahrendts has tweaked parts of Apple's retail "software" by changing employee t-shirts to a softer material, and removing lanyards so employees "make a human connection" with customers. One former Apple Genius said that while removing lanyards made uniforms "cleaner," the high amount of customers visiting Apple every day is a "reality of retail" that made connecting with every customer difficult.

When she was creating her strategy, Ahrendts discussed the design and look of the new Apple locations with Jony Ive, who was said to have told Ahrendts, "Don't mess with the tables," referring to the iconic wooden tables that line every Apple store. Ive further described these tables as "sacred."
Before embarking on the redesign, Ahrendts consulted creative chief Ive, whom Steve Jobs once called his “spiritual partner.” “In one of those very early conversations,” Ahrendts recalled, Ive “said, ‘Don't mess with the tables. They're the same tables we used in our design studio and I love that it goes from the studio to the stores.’ He said, ‘They're sacred.’”
Ahrendts also recalled the company's expansion into China, where she asked all United States retail employees if they would be interested to move overseas and assist in running new stores in China. The executive said she was expecting 100 or 200 responses, but ended up with 2,000, half of which ended up moving overseas with plans to stay for between 1 and 5 years. Those who remain in the U.S. said that under Ahrendts' leadership, worker benefits have improved.

Image captured by Hoss Ghertassi via BuzzFeed News
All of the employees who spoke to BuzzFeed News agree that Ahrendts improved their benefits soon after she joined in May 2014. For example, Ahrendts introduced restricted stock units, or gifted Apple stock (which could previously be purchased at a discount), that vests every three years. She also extended school tuition reimbursement to part-time workers. Most said they were happy with their pay, which ranges from $17 to $20 an hour for non-Genius roles and up to $30 an hour for Geniuses.
Still, some employees have described their work as starting to feel "increasingly corporate" under Ahrendts. One technical specialist stated that Apple retail "now feels more like a Circuit City, a Best Buy" because of increased micromanagement, rising repair prices, a focus on moving customers in and out of the store as fast as possible, and an "emphasis" on attracting business accounts.

The rest of the profile on Ahrendts covers much of the same ground as BuzzFeed's iPhone 8 launch video about Apple's "war room," as well as an interview with CEO Tim Cook and Ahrendts posted yesterday. In that interview, Ahrendts said it was "fake news...silly" that she was being groomed as future Apple CEO. Cook then said, "I see my role as CEO to prepare as many people as I can to be CEO, and that’s what I’m doing."

Check out the full BuzzFeed News article on Angela Ahrendts here.

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Angela Ahrendts: We will not upsell customers to the most expensive iPhone X

Angela Ahrendts, the head of Apple’s retail business, said Friday in an interview with CNBC that they won’t attempt to upsell customers to the pricier iPhone X model, which launches in two weeks.... Read the rest of this post here

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Angela Ahrendts Says Apple Won’t Try to Upsell Customers to iPhone X

Apple Store employees won't try to upsell customers to the iPhone X, according to Apple's retail chief Angela Ahrendts.

Ahrendts, who is in Chicago today for the grand opening of Apple's new Michigan Avenue store, told CNBC that Apple recognizes each customer has different needs that may not require purchasing the most expensive iPhone model.
"Internally we said the tagline was 'an iPhone for everyone,'" she said. "I prefer that we ask you who you're buying it for. If they're 6 or 7 years old, what do they need? If it's someone who's leaning into something else, what do they need? We do that with Mac, we do that with iPad, why wouldn't we do that with [the] phone?"
iPhone X starts at $999 in the United States with 64GB of storage, while a 256GB model is available for $1,149. By comparison, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus start at $699 and $799 respectively.

Ming-Chi Kuo, a reputable Apple analyst at KGI Securities, recently said only 2-3 million iPhone X units will be available to purchase when the device launches. Pre-orders begin October 27 at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time.

Related: iPhone X vs. iPhone 8 vs. iPhone 8 Plus

Related Roundup: iPhone X

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Apple Shares Behind-the-Scenes Look at Pre-Order ‘War Room’ for iPhone 8 and Other New Products

BuzzFeed News has put together a video of how Apple prepares for an iPhone launch day around the world.

When iPhone 8, Apple Watch Series 3, and Apple TV 4K pre-orders began at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time last Friday, dozens of Apple engineers were assembled in a so-called "war room" to ensure the process went smoothly.

For around three hours, these engineers sat in front of at least 10 TVs forming a larger display, which appears to show the system status of pre-orders in launch countries. One engineer had a map of the world open on his iMac.

"Over half of the orders that night will come in through the Apple Store app," said Apple's retail chief Angela Ahrendts. "We turn the whole world on at once. I think you saw the map with everything lighting up all over the world."

BuzzFeed reporter Nicole Nguyen then visited UPS's Worldport shipping facility in Louisville, Kentucky, a major hub for Apple products.

Nguyen said the volume of Apple products is so large that UPS has to set aside time to sort just those deliveries. Apple's launch day haul took up an entire large room, and the products later traveled along miles of conveyor belts.

UPS delivers some of the orders to Apple retail stores, while others arrive directly at customers' doorsteps.

Apple retail stores usually attract long queues of customers on launch days, but the crowds have been smaller for today's iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus launch. Many customers are likely waiting for the iPhone X, which launches November 3.

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Angela Ahrendts Climbs to Thirteenth Spot in Fortune’s ‘Most Powerful Women’ List for 2017

Apple's senior vice president of retail stores, Angela Ahrendts, has climbed to grab the 13th spot on Fortune's "Most Powerful Women" list for 2017. In 2015 Ahrendts took the 16th spot, and in 2016 she rose to the 14th spot.

The top 5 women on the list this year are Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO, #5), Abigail Johnson (Fidelity Investments CEO, #4), Marillyn Hewson (Lockheed Martin President and CEO, #3), Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo CEO, #2), and Mary Barra (General Motors CEO, #1).

Fortune's list includes a brief summary of Ahrendts' latest accomplishments at Apple:
Since being persuaded by Tim Cook to join Apple in 2014 (she previously led British fashion brand Burberry), Ahrendts has been heads down on the tech behemoth’s largest store redesign in 15 years. In May the company launched its long-awaited “Today at Apple” initiative, which seeks to supplement public education through free courses on everything from coding to music production to photography. Apple’s highest-ranking woman, she oversees 60,000 retail employees and is responsible for the in-store experiences of a more than a million daily customers. Research firm eMarketer estimates that the combined revenue from in-store and online sales is nearly $50 billion. Ahrendts was the second executive after Cook—and the only woman—to take the stage at September’s keynote, where she spoke at length about Apple’s “town squares”—the new moniker for its retail stores.
Ahrendts joined Apple from Burberry in the spring of 2014, when she said she'd bring a personal touch to Apple's retail management. Three years later she has spearheaded the launch of Apple's next-generation retail store design and "Today at Apple" classes worldwide.

Last week, Ahrendts also appeared on stage during Apple's iPhone X keynote event, where she went into detail about new and upcoming Apple Town Square locations in Chicago, Paris, and Milan.

For more information on Fortune's ranking, the site has published a few articles today: explaining the list's continued importance, highlighting the newcomers, and pointing out those who have dropped off the list this year.

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