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".

Top Rated Comments

Digital Dude Avatar
49 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
49 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
49 months ago
Exactly, Apple stores have gone downhill when Ahrendts had control...
Score: 87 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Scottsoapbox Avatar
49 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
49 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
49 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)

Popular Stories

iOS 16

iOS 16.3 Now Available for Your iPhone With These 4 New Features

Friday February 3, 2023 1:13 pm PST by
Apple released iOS 16.3 in late January following nearly six weeks of beta testing. The software update is available for the iPhone 8 and newer, and while it is a relatively minor update, it still includes a handful of new features, changes, and bug fixes. Below, we've recapped new features in iOS 16.3, including support for physical security keys as a two-factor authentication option for...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

Gurman: Apple Considering New High-End iPhone Alongside Pro and Pro Max

Sunday February 5, 2023 6:07 am PST by
Apple has discussed selling a new top-of-the-line iPhone alongside the Pro and Pro Max models in 2024 at the earliest, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Based on this timeframe, the device would be part of the iPhone 16 lineup or later. In a September 2022 edition of his weekly "Power On" newsletter, Gurman said there was "potential" for an iPhone 15 Ultra to replace the iPhone 15 Pro...
ipad air purple

Deals: M1 iPad Air Hits Record-Low Prices at TigerDirect, Starting at $313.99 (48% Off) [Updated]

Saturday February 4, 2023 10:05 am PST by
Online retailer TigerDirect has slashed pricing on the M1 iPad Air in several colors, offering the base 64GB configuration for just $313.99 in Purple and Pink. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with TigerDirect. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. That's a savings of 48% compared to Apple's normal $599.00...
mac studio pink

Apple May Not Launch Updated Mac Studio With M2 Ultra Chip Due to Similarity With Upcoming Mac Pro

Sunday February 5, 2023 6:06 am PST by
A new version of the Mac Studio with the "M2 Ultra" chip is unlikely to arrive in the near future, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explained that since the upcoming Apple silicon Mac Pro is "very similar in functionality to the Mac Studio," Apple may wait until the release of M3- or M4-series chips to update the machine, or...
webkit vs chromium feature

Google Working on Browser for iOS That Would Break Apple's App Store Rules

Saturday February 4, 2023 1:30 am PST by
Google's Chromium developers are working on an experimental web browser for iOS that would break Apple's browser engine restrictions, The Register reports. The experimental browser, which is being actively pursued by developers, uses Google's Blink engine. Yet if Google attempted to release it on the App Store, it would not pass Apple's App Review process. Apple's App Store rules dictate...
Apple Silicon Teal Feature

The Next Big Apple Silicon Device May Not Be a Mac or iPad

Wednesday February 1, 2023 3:57 am PST by
Apple's next device with an Apple silicon chip may not be a Mac or an iPad, but rather an advanced external display, according to recent reports. The display, which is rumored to arrive this year, is expected to sit somewhere between the $1,599 Studio Display and the $4,999 Pro Display XDR – but more exact information about the device's positioning and price point is as yet unknown. While ...
top stories 4feb2023

Top Stories: New HomePod Launches, iOS 16.3.1 Coming Soon, and More

Saturday February 4, 2023 6:00 am PST by
This week saw the launch of the final product from Apple's January hardware announcements, with the second-generation HomePod making its way into customers' hands. Other news and rumors this week included signs of an interim iOS 16.3.1 bug fix update in the works as we await a fresh round of beta testing for a more significant iOS 16.4 update, a report on the potential dangers of using...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With Apple's Second-Generation HomePod

Friday February 3, 2023 1:28 pm PST by
Today is the official launch day for the second-generation HomePod that was introduced in January, and we picked one up to compare it to the original HomePod that Apple discontinued in 2021. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design wise, the second-generation HomePod looks a lot like the first-generation model, featuring the same rounded design and acoustic mesh...