The Store As ‘Software’: How Apple Reimagined Retail — Again

“Retail is not dying, but it has to evolve. It has to continue to move and I think it has to serve a bigger purpose than selling, because anybody can do that faster, cheaper.” So said Apple’s senior vice president of retail, Angela Ahrendts, at the recent Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

In order to progress retail at Apple, Ahrendts started with an analogy. She pictured Apple Retail not as a channel to market but as “Apple’s largest product.” Instantly, that perspective elevates the retail space to a higher plane – demanding the same kind of care and intention as goes into the design and manufacturing of, say, an iPhone. The store is no longer a place to buy products – it is the product. To expand on the premise, “the hardware is the architecture of the store, the software is what happens inside the store,” Ahrendts explained to a crowded room at the Cannes Festival.
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