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Apr 12, 2001
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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.

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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".

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

BigMcGuire

Contributor
Jan 10, 2012
7,311
9,017
the Alpha Quadrant
Can't tell you how many times I was told to stand somewhere and wait, only to hear someone call my name somewhere else in the store and have to walk over to them and ask: Are you asking for me? (They were).

I don't go to the Apple Store very often but you would think that this is not something difficult to do?

The biggest "problem" I see with Apple Stores is that they're really packed. The appointment system basically guaranteed us service when we walk in, I like it.

Either way, my service at local Apple Stores has been absolutely amazing. Apple support (replacing my broken phone in 6 minutes, for example) is one reason why I pay the Apple Tax if you want to call it that.

Happy to see they're working on improving this!
 
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jake.au

macrumors newbie
Jun 24, 2018
6
28
Melbourne, Australia
Totally agree with less knowledgable staffs. I've talked to so many stupid staffs and in most cases I know more than them. One genius even refused to repair my MacBook with a bad hinge because he thinks there's nothing wrong with it, I insisted for him to open it up and finally he came back to me admitting the fault.
 
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haruhiko

macrumors 603
Sep 29, 2009
5,593
3,689
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.
 
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jweinraub

macrumors 6502
Jun 26, 2007
338
181
Sol III
If I was going there for a recall, I had to make a genius appointment to drop off the phone. They had to still run diagnostics on it. I brought two phones in and had to wait four hours for that phone to be seen. I was furious at that. I don't know if that was Angela or Tim policy but how the stores are run with returns/exchanges/and what not is stupid.

You would never see something like that at Best Buy. Why did Apple think that was such a good idea?
 
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Spock

macrumors 68020
Jan 6, 2002
2,357
3,002
Vulcan
The crowds of people make it difficult to find what you want and like others have said, the lack of knowledgeable staff doesn’t help. They also shouldn’t do training on demo machines, I made a trip to the Apple Store so I could take a look at the iMac Pro and the “Genius” was using it to show a 90 year old how to organize her photos.
 
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poe diddley

macrumors regular
Jun 5, 2005
229
97
greensboro nc
in all seriousness its a gigantic mess. there's nothing i hate more now than to have to go into one of those places. especially if i need service on my device. employee and most especially genius knowledge is at an all time low. it's just pre approved apple scripts now. no one has any legit tech knowledge. sad really
 
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Ronlap

macrumors 6502
Sep 7, 2007
260
199
San Francisco Bay Area
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.

I agree with you. I went into a San Francisco Apple store. Both the iPhone and MacBook tables had 6 devices quietly running demos, and nothing was marked. With the removal of the identifier on the back of the iPhone, I had no clue whatsoever what was in my hand. Same with the MacBook -- no specs anywhere thus making comparison between models useless.

And there was an entire wall full of metal posts with iPhone cases mounted on them -- at least 3 dozen. Great for decoration but a total waste of space.
 
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itsmilo

Suspended
Sep 15, 2016
3,985
8,723
Berlin, Germany
Why would you gather at an Apple Store? That’s such a random idea and never even occurred to me.

„Hey bro. Wanna hang today? Sure. Let’s mEet at 4 pm at the Apple Store, i haven’t seen you in a while!“

Also I agree that it has gotten worse. You check in and they just tell you to wait with no idea if they have forgotten about you or not. It’s worse than sitting at a waiting room at the doctors office. Why don’t they just give you a number or a buzzer and when it’s your turn you get informed via display at the store or the gadget buzzing
 
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Markgnyc2

macrumors 6502
Nov 17, 2013
260
306
I agree with the stores becoming less shopper friendly. I was buying a Macbook Air after the new models came out last year and the store was not crowded but I had to go into the queue and wait 45 minutes just to purchase the computer. There should be a clear way for a customer to purchase something (especially if they know exactly what they want) without an extended wait.
 
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mdatwood

macrumors 6502a
Mar 14, 2010
733
453
East Coast, USA
I haven't had any problems when making an appointment ahead of time. Walk in, get in seen in a few minutes and walk out.

When I randomly walk in to buy a cable or something it takes way too long. The first person who looks like they can check me out usually can't so someone else gets called over. They really should just let me scan the accessory with my phone and pay right there.
 
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slineaudi

macrumors regular
Oct 12, 2009
139
201
Maybe my local Apple store is just above average, but I like the changes. As soon as you walk in, someone asks you why you are visiting. If you need service, they enter you in the service queue and then you're free to roam around the store. If you need sales, they direct you to the product and enter you in the sales queue. In both cases, after a short wait an employee comes right to you and then helps you with the sales or service you need. I've done this several times and it's always been a much better experience than any other retail store I can think of. People always seemed to find the old genius bar confusing. While being helped, other customers would keep walking up to the bar and trying to squeeze in to get help. The 'bar' model didn't indicate there is actually a queue and someone will help you when it's your turn.
 
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Rogifan

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2011
22,536
28,437
I’ve never had an issue at an Apple store. Just a couple weeks ago I was there because I dropped my phone and needed the screen replaced. They took my phone and within an hour I was back at the store with a completely replaced screen. Seems to me the biggest issues with the stores are how crowded they can be. I’m not sure there’s much Apple can do outside of building more stores. Bringing back a Genius Bar sign isn’t going to make the stores less crowded.

If Jason Snell’s contacts are right the new head of retail will be pushing employees to sell more product. One example he gave is using Today at Apple sessions to sell product. People complain about the stores now but will hate them even more when they become just another Best Buy.
 
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Benjamin Frost

Suspended
May 9, 2015
2,405
5,000
London, England
This rings so true with me!

I hate that there is no till to queue and pay at. Hate all the staff wandering aimlessly.

The last straw was when I tried to buy an iTunes gift card. I had to speak to FIVE members of staff! Absolutely, utterly ridiculous. It was the exact opposite of what Apple used to be known for: ease of use.

Don't get me started on the appearance of the staff...
 
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