Apple needs a new retail strategy

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The Apple Store is at a crossroads.Its CEO is stepping down, and the iPhone, its most important product, is in a major slump. That’s bad news for Apple in the near-term — but a major opportunity for the Apple Store to take on an even bigger role for the company.

Apple (AAPL) built its stores to be the ultimate showroom for its latest products. Potential customers can go test out each Apple device. But that model faces a major challenge: iPhone sales fell 15% last quarter. People aren’t buying as many Apple devices, and they’re holding onto their old gadgets for longer than in the past.

Retail chief Angela Ahrendts announced Tuesday thatshe will be leaving the company. Now Apple must figure out how its 500 retail stores fit into its future.

“The stores need to reflect a changing Apple franchise,” said Daniel Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities. “Some of that has been lost over the last few years.”

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