updated 09:39 pm EDT, Fri August 1, 2014
Says first 90 days with the company 'amazing,' praises retail workers
Apple Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores Dame Angela Ahrendts dropped by the Grand Central Station Apple Store this afternoon to talk with workers and learn more about the operation there. She is continuing a tour of flagship stores, having previously been seen at the grand opening of the Omotesando store in Japan and other locations. Ahrendts also released a memo with a Q&A section talking about her vision and her early experiences as head of retail.
In the Q&A, Ahrendts addressed employee questions such as "how can we become better ambassadors of the company" and "what can the online and retail stores learn from each other?" To the former question, she encouraged retail Apple employees to stay in tune with the messages the company is sending out, ranging from the commercials and launch event keynotes to the home page features and social media feeds. It was important for retail employees to be on the same page as the company's marketing because "as you build relationships with our customers, you are also building loyalty to the company" she noted.
"I love the last line of our Credo, 'We are at our best when we delivery enriching experiences that help owners of our products get more of our technology and of themselves.' You [retail employees] bring this to life, and by doing this we get the brand out there in the most compelling way." She noted that retail workers are the "ambassadors of the company" that comprise "more than half" of the total Apple employee population.
To the latter question, Ahrendts responded that online and retail stores "are already connecting and learning from each other," adding that there is an increasing amount of "parity" in the images and look of the physical and virtual outlets. "We must know that 80 percent of the time, our customer journey begins online -- and we must evolve to ensure we support this preference," she said.
Other questions dealt with Ahrendts' own experiences coming to the company from a CEO position at fashion maker Burberry. She took the opportunity to praise Apple for "the brilliant balance between the creative and the commercial that the company has maintained as it has grown so dramatically" and admitted that she hadn't been sure at first that she would "fit" into a technology company.
"I have realized, however, there is an unbelievable culture here that values leadership, marketing, and customer skills as I do. Everyone has been warm and welcoming, passionate, and compassionate, so my only growing pains have been to learn how to quickly navigate such a large and complex organization," she said, mentioning that she was "honored to be with you on this fantastic journey."
When asked to tell retail employees a little more about herself, she mentioned that she and her husband will celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary next month, and revealed that she has "three amazing teens, two wonderful Bernese mountain dogs, and two beautiful rag doll cats who will soon make their journey to San Francisco." During her brief stay at the Grand Central Store, 9to5Mac happened to catch her discussing operations with the staff there and reported that she "seemed genuinely interested in how the store worked and especially how it was set up."
Ahrendts has previously revealed that her focus on the retail stores extends to better grouping of similar stores for more management uniformity, and that she wants to advance plans for mobile-payment options, more stores in China, and more integration between the online and physical stores. One other change already implemented in Europe that will be coming to US Apple Stores is that all employees will switch to the standard blue t-shirt "uniform," where previously the business specialists wore black shirts.