Apple bets on brick-and-mortar stores as economies reopen, head of retailer says

By Stephen Nellis

Jun 24 (.) – Apple Inc is expanding its retail operations as the United States begins to move past the worst of the pandemic, betting that its stores will be more popular than ever, its head of retail told ..

Apple is doing it as the retail industry calculates what the post-pandemic future will look like, with consumers getting used to ordering almost everything online.

For Apple, the answer is to preserve what has helped people during the pandemic and duplicate its pre-pandemic strategy of events and in-store experiences beyond shopping.

Express counters that appeared to help customers pick up online orders more efficiently, for example, will become standard features of the more than 500 Apple stores around the world, all of which have reopened.

“We’re looking at this moment as a way to really start over, and start over in every way,” Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s senior vice president of retail, who was preparing to open the new store, told . on Thursday. at the renovated Tower Theater in downtown Los Angeles, Apple’s second new US retail store since the start of the pandemic.

Apple grew during the pandemic, reaching $ 2 trillion in market capitalization in August 2020 and setting record sales for iPhones and several other categories.

One of the retail-related pain points in its financial results, analysts said, was a slowdown in sales of AppleCare, a device insurance plan often sold during a store visit.

Apple also experienced supply chain errors over the past year, delivering its iPhone 12 later than usual and saying in April that a global semiconductor shortage would cost it several billion dollars in sales.

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Part of Apple’s retail success amid the lockdowns was optimizing its online shopping process and receiving the product in person. Apple’s long-standing retail strategy has been to encourage customers to roam its spacious stores to touch and feel their devices.

During the pandemic, Apple reformulated many stores to have small express counters designed to facilitate deliveries quickly but with a personal touch, sometimes following up online or over the phone later to set up devices.

“The goal was really speed, which is very different from what we usually experience in a retail store,” O’Brien said. “We want to make sure they can get in and get the product they want quickly. But we want to make sure that we can also have a quick conversation with them to make sure they have everything they need.”

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco. Edited in Spanish by Rodrigo Charme)

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