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Apple Bets On Its Physical Stores As Economies Emerge From Pandemic Closures

Apple Bets On Its Physical Stores As Economies Emerge From Pandemic Closures
Apple Inc believes that a combination of strategies that it had developed and deployed during the vcodi-19 pandemic will increase the popularity of its physical stores more than ever and hence the iPhone maker is expanding its retail operations as the United States emerges from the pandemic, the company’s retail chief said to the media.
This outlook about its retail business of apple comes at a time when retailers around the world are trying to work out how the post pandemic retail industry will look like since customers have become used to ordering and receiving everything online during the pandemic.
Apple wants to stick to the strategy that helped it see through the pandemic while also strongly implementing its pre-pandemic strategy of in-store events and experiences for customers in addition to shopping.
For example, the express counters of the company that popped up to help customers more efficiently pick up online orders will be made regular features for Apple's 500-plus stores around the world all of which are have started business once again since June 14.
A new "Creative Studios" program, starting in Los Angeles and Beijing, is also being added by the iPhone maker. The aim of this program is to teach young people from underrepresented communities about using Apple products for creating music, films and photography. That will add on to the already existing range of classes that are given at the stores of the company designed to create a more frequent engagement of customers with Apple.
"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, said in an interview the news agency Reuters.
The business of apple was quite strong during the pandemic as it crossed the $3 trillion market capitalization mark in August last year while also reporting record sales of iPhones and in a number of other product and offering categories.
But according to analysts, a slowdown in the sales of AppleCare, a device insurance plan that is most often upsold to customers when they visit an Apple store but becomes easier for customer to avoid when shopping online was one of the weak posts in the company’s financial performance in its retail related business. Over the last one year, there were also supply chain missteps for Apple as the company was late than usual in delivering its iPhone 12 last year. The company has also said that it would suffer several billion dollars in lost sales because of the global semiconductor shortage.
Streamlining of its buy-online and pick-up-in-person process was partly responsible for the success of Apple's retail business during the pandemic when most of its stores were forced to close down. For long, the strategy of Apple has been to entice customers to roam around its airy stores and to have a look and feel of its products physically.
Many of the stores however had to be redesigned during the pandemic with small express counters for facilitating quick pickups and yet offer a personal touch by following up online or over the phone later for setting up devices.
"The goal was really for speed, which is very different than what we usually experience in a retail store," O'Brien said. "We want to make sure that in that experience that they can come in, quickly get the product they want. But we do want to make sure that we can also have a quick conversation with them to make sure that they have everything they need."

Christopher J. Mitchell

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