Apple’s vice president of retail, Angela Ahrendts, doesn't see the Apple stores as simply places to learn and purchase Apple devices. In an interview with CNBC, the executive said she envisions them as “town squares” where people can socialize with friends, see concerts and take classes.
Ahrendts made the comments just as the Cupertino, California technology powerhouse opened a new flagship store in Chicago. With this opening, Apple now operates 497 stores around the world.
"The way we look at it is building a relationship," Ahrendts said in the CNBC interview. "It's no different from fashion – don't you go back to someone who's taken really good care of you, who you trust, to make you a better version of yourself?" The executive confirmed that retail employees are told not to necessarily try to get customers to purchase the iPhone X – the priciest version, which will be available in early November – citing the tagline within the company that "there is an iPhone for everyone."
"I prefer that we ask you who you're buying it for," she said. "If they're six or seven 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?"
As for talk that eCommerce will eventually kill the physical store, Ahrendts says there’s room for both, because people still want the human connection and the touch and feel they get from going into a store. In order for the retailers to stay relevant, however, they must evolve by embracing things like flexible spaces.
"You've got to move, you've got to change. I think it's going to keep happening faster and faster, so whatever we build has got to be able to go with it," she told CNBC.