Apple Retail Employees Vent Frustrations About Stores Becoming Less 'Shopper-Friendly' in Recent Years

A new article by Bloomberg has highlighted some customer and employee frustrations with the state of Apple's retail business, particularly in the wake of changes introduced by former retail chief Angela Ahrendts. According to some current and former Apple employees, the retail stores have become more focused on branding than satisfying shoppers, leading to more complaints lodged against some stores.

apple bangkok store opening interior 11072018
Ahrendts left Apple last month after first joining the company in 2014, and Apple executive Deirdre O'Brien has succeeded Ahrendts in the retail position. The shake-up happened as Apple's retail business faces more and more issues alongside slowing iPhone sales.

O'Brien is now tasked with revitalizing Apple's retail business, even if that means moving away from the idea of Apple retail stores as social gathering places, which was the initiative spearheaded by Ahrendts. The former retail chief built stores with less clearly defined locations for checking out and speaking to Apple's Geniuses, in an effort to promote the company as a luxury shopping brand amid the launch of the first Apple Watch and its $17,000 Apple Watch Edition models.

According to Bloomberg's sources, this led to customer confusion and was accompanied by other issues, like less skilled employees and the removal of the traditional Genius Bar at some stores.

The overhaul of the Genius Bar has been especially controversial. Customers looking for technical advice or repairs must now check in with an employee, who types their request into an iPad. Then when a Genius is free, he or she must find the customer wherever they happen to be in the store. Ahrendts was determined to get rid of lineups, but now the stores are often crowded with people waiting for their iPhones to be fixed or batteries swapped out.

Apple was “trying to streamline things,” says one employee, “but in the process made things more difficult for some customers.”

One former Apple executive said that O'Brien is looking to borrow from the past and break up Apple stores into more clearly defined sections. These include areas that promote Apple's growing services business, like Apple Music and Apple TV+. A few employees speculated that she will also bring back the original Genius Bar.

To help boost sales in the interim, Apple has begun offering discounts on iPhones, cheap financing, trade-in offers, and more. These offers were seen around the world, including specific promotions in Australia and China, with Apple typically e-mailing customers about the limited-time discounts. In the United States, Apple even updated its website to promote a monthly payment option for iPhone XR and XS trade-ups.

The first ‌Apple retail‌ store that will open under O'Brien will be the Carnegie Library location in Washington, D.C. on May 11. As of now, Apple still sees its stores as communal gathering places. According to CEO Tim Cook, "We should probably come up with a name other than 'store,' because it's more of a place for the community to use in a much broader way."

Visit Bloomberg to read the full article: "How the Apple Store Lost Its Luster".

Related Roundup: Apple Stores

Top Rated Comments

Digital Dude Avatar
29 months ago
The open air store layout is chaotic, cold and dysfunctional. Employee knowledge of products has dropped significantly in recent years.
Score: 102 Votes (Like | Disagree)
B4U Avatar
29 months ago
And when people criticize her bad decisions, they are labeled as misogynists just because the bad decisions are made by a woman.
But the fact is, the decisions themselves are simply bad no matter who made them.
Score: 94 Votes (Like | Disagree)
magbarn Avatar
29 months ago
Exactly, Apple stores have gone downhill when Ahrendts had control...
Score: 87 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Scottsoapbox Avatar
29 months ago
Ah corporate America, where one executive gets a bonus for changing something and the next executive gets a bonus for changing it back. :rolleyes:

But change is often confused with progress in both corporations and forums. o_O
Score: 81 Votes (Like | Disagree)
The Phazer Avatar
29 months ago
Finally, someone might do something about the fact it's actually quite hard to walk into an Apple Store and just buy something.
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
haruhiko Avatar
29 months ago
Less and less third party accessories, more and more pointless expensive stuff, tens of versions of old and new iPad, iPhones and MacBook scattered across tables, nobody knows which one is the latest version. A bulk of store area is used to place... stools on it with random kids and grandmas sitting on it doing nothing, with a giant crazy screen playing nonsense ads. Noisier than a market. Extremely difficult to find someone to help, even for checking out. What is a Genius Bar? Apple Store's service has never been this bad before 2015 or so. These 2-3 years has negated the good reputation of the Apple Store built up in decades.

And god damn it I cannot return any goods in Hong Kong's Apple Stores since 2017. WTF? Tim Cook may care about your privacy but he never cares about Apple Store's service.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Flat 2021 MacBook Pro Mockup Feature

Unreleased Apple Macs and Apple Watches Listed in Eurasian Database Ahead of Fall Product Launches

Monday August 2, 2021 9:34 am PDT by
Apple is preparing for a slew of fall product launches according to new filings that showed up today in the Eurasian Economic Commission database. There are listings for new Mac and Apple Watch models, all of which have previously unknown model identifiers that indicate that they're upcoming devices. There are six new Apple Watch identifiers, including A2473, A2474, A2475, A2476, A2477, and...
ifixit iphone12 mini

Apple to Make Space for Larger Batteries in iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks By Adopting Slimmer Peripheral Chips

Monday August 2, 2021 2:12 am PDT by
For future iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks, Apple plans to use smaller internal components in an effort to increase the size of the device's battery, according to DigiTimes. Image Credit: iFixit Specifically, Apple plans to "significantly increase the adoption" of IPDs or integrated passive devices for the peripheral chips in its products. These news chips will be slimmer in size and allow for...
Apple Watch 7 Unreleased Feature

Apple Watch Series 7 to Focus on One Major Upgrade

Wednesday August 4, 2021 2:12 am PDT by
The upcoming Apple Watch Series 7 will focus on one important feature in an attempt to tempt existing Apple Watch users that have an older device to upgrade, according to recent reports. Apple may skip adding new health sensors to this year's Apple Watch Series 7 in favor of improving the device's battery life. The company is said to be adopting new double-sided System in Package (SiP)...
magic keyboard touch id

Apple Makes Magic Keyboard With Touch ID Available for Separate Purchase

Tuesday August 3, 2021 5:22 am PDT by
Apple has made the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, which previously was only available with the purchase of the new 24-inch iMac, available for purchase individually for $149. Apple also retails the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and a numeric keypad for $179. A standard Magic Keyboard without Touch ID or a numeric keypad is available for $99, and a new Magic Trackpad for $129. One major...
iPhone 13 Wi Fi 6E feature update

Wi-Fi 6E Explained: What It Could Mean for iPhone 13 and Beyond

Monday August 2, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 is widely expected to come with Wi-Fi 6E capabilities, and while it may seem rather nuanced to the average consumer, with only improved speeds and being "up to date" in the realm of Wi-Fi technology, it's actually a fairly significant improvement, laying the groundwork for much of what we know the future holds. To truly understand Wi-Fi 6E, MacRumors sat down for an exclusive...
applestoredown

Apple's Online Store Temporarily Down [Update: Back Up]

Tuesday August 3, 2021 4:01 pm PDT by
Apple's online Apple Store is down at the current time, and attempting to access it to make a purchase gives the standard "Be Right Back" message. Given that it's a Tuesday night/afternoon in the United States and we're not expecting any new products this week, it's likely that this is a temporary maintenance outage that is not related to a new product release. The Apple Store app is also...
themorningshowcarrell

Apple Decided Not to Buy Reese Witherspoon's 'Hello Sunshine' Media Company

Monday August 2, 2021 2:02 pm PDT by
Reese Witherspoon's media company "Hello Sunshine" recently courted various buyers, and while Apple was one of parties interested in buying Hello Sunshine, the Cupertino company did not end up going through with the purchase. Hello Sunshine was valued at around $900 million thanks to its involvement in popular series like The Morning Show," "Big Little Lies," and "Little Fires Everywhere,"...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Apple Brings China's Luxshare Precision into iPhone 13 Supply Chain to Meet Production Targets

Wednesday August 4, 2021 12:19 am PDT by
Apple is tapping more Chinese suppliers as it seeks to meet ambitious targets for iPhone 13 production, according to a new report by Nikkei Asia. Apple is set to produce between 90 million and 95 million iPhones through January, according to a previous Nikkei report, and China's Luxshare Precision Industry has won 3% of orders away from Taiwanese rivals Foxconn and Pegatron. Luxshare will...
mac pro new graphics

Apple Introduces New High-End Graphics Options for Mac Pro

Tuesday August 3, 2021 7:34 am PDT by
Apple today began offering new high-end graphics upgrade options for both the tower and rack versions of the Mac Pro desktop computer. This comes on the same day that Apple started selling the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID on a standalone basis. As noted by CNN Underscored's Jake Krol, the Mac Pro can now be configured with new AMD Radeon Pro W6800X, W6800X Duo, or W6900X graphics when...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...