Apple Wants To ‘Begin Again’ With Physical Stores

Apple store

Following a boom during the COVID pandemic, Apple has begun expanding its retail operations based on the belief that the stores will become more popular than ever, Reuters reported Thursday (June 24).

The move comes as others in the retail industry are figuring out what the future will look like post-pandemic. “For Apple, the answer is keeping what helped it through the pandemic, and doubling down on its pre-pandemic strategy of in-store events and experiences beyond shopping,” the news outlet wrote.

That means making the express counters created to help customers picking up online orders permanent futures at Apple’s stores, which were all reopened as of June 14. The iPhone maker is also opening at least two new stores, per the Reuters report.

There’s also the “Creative Studios” program launching in Los Angeles and Beijing to teach kids from underrepresented communities to make movies, music and photos with Apple products.

“We’re looking at this moment right now as a way to really begin again, and begin again in every way,” Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s senior vice president of retail and people, told Reuters.

Apple said in April it would invest more $430 in innovations in the U.S., planning to bring roughly 20,000 jobs to the country in an effort that would extend across all 50 states. That follows 36 months of investment that surpassed the company’s five-year, $350 billion goal.

Apple achieved a $2 trillion market capitalization during the pandemic, selling record numbers of iPhones and other products. One of its weak spots during this time was a decline in sales of AppleCare, a device insurance plan employees can upsell in stores, and that customers can easily decline when shopping online.

Like many companies, Apple has also had supply chain misfortunes, delivering the iPhone 12 later than anticipated. The company is also looking at losses due to a worldwide shortage in semiconductors, the Reuters report said.

Apple’s strategy of investing in brick-and-mortar retail at a time of booming eCommerce sales might seem like another example of it “thinking differently.”

But as Afterpay’s Nick Molnar said in an interview with PYMNTS last year, it might be too soon to write the obituary for brick-and-mortar stores.

“Amid economic uncertainty, certain retailers are adapting and innovating in ways we haven’t seen before,” he said. “In some segments, I think they’ve adapted very quickly. Retailers have their finger on the pulse when it comes to understanding how customers live their lives in all aspects, and they have adapted to that.”