At Apple, the retail leader is a large, publicly focused position.
While Apple is a technology company, its stores – more than 500 worldwide – are one of the most important places where the company can talk directly to customers, fix their problems and persuade them to buy new Apple computers.
In fact, Apple's senior retailer, Angela Ahrendts, is fond of calling Apple Store's "biggest product". Most of Apple's full-time employees work in their stores.
But now Ahrendts is out. In an announcement on Tuesday, Apple said Ahrendts would leave and take over would be Deirdre O & # 39; Brien, who runs Apple's human resources and will add the retail department to the workload.
Brien has already started, according to a proper submission. Ahrendts will leave Apple on April 1
Read more : Apple's Retail Manager, Angela Ahrendts, Leaves
Although Ahrendts was a public face on Apple, which appears at launch events and interviews, many consumers and Apple dealers will remember her Five-Year as a period of change and challenge.
When she started, Apple's stores were already a juggernaut. Apple stopped reporting sales per square meter a while ago, but a 2017 estimate from eMarketer said Apple made more than $ 5,000 a square meter – higher than any other retailer.
Ahrendts oversaw a great redesign of Apple's stores, and began with the name – not the Apple Stores, but only Apple, like Burberry, the fashion house she used to lead.
During the audit, Apple stores moved from lines and the Genius Bar, where customers could sit to get their products fixed and moved to a new paradigm, where Apple employees roam the floor and help or check out customers from their mobile devices.
She also integrated Apple's online store and retail store so that so many people could pre-order and pick up iPhones on launch days as the famous line of fans became basically a phenomenon of the past.
"Ahrend's signature completed has been an association of Apple's offline and online retailer experiences, and she further developed in Apple in the store experience," wrote Loup Ventures founder Gene Munster in an email.
Apple employees liked that Ahrendts was communicative and was surprised at the announcement. She posted regular video addresses to retailers, which could be seen on Apple's employee portal. She also regularly communicated with store teams why certain programs or products were changed or added, an Apple Technician told Business Insider, asking for anonymity because they are not allowed to speak publicly about their job.
Retailers were informed of the changes in an email sent shortly after Apple's publication.
But there were also significant challenges during Ahrendts. Shops are often crowded, especially during important periods such as the holiday season. Apple stores became the de facto service center for iPhones purchased from anywhere, including from carriers and other retailers, limiting limited resources. And the new system to greet an Apple employee from anywhere on the show floor frustrated some people, who would have preferred to do it.
Apple's service issues worsened in the last year when the company was forced to offer new $ 29 iPhone batteries after a software update scandal. Stores experienced a large inflation in customers, which led to distress and unsatisfactory experiences. Bold Fireball John Gruber said Apple replaced 10 times the number of batteries it would normally have, and several types of batteries were deficient. Apple eventually had to include employees from other service-oriented parts of the business, as well as external contractors, to handle the aftermath, according to the 9to5Mac.
Read more : Apple acknowledges the money to pay for litigation related to its iPhone battery charge & # 39; throttle scandal
Ahrendts was also not immune to gaffes. At an iPhone launch, she referred to Apple's stores as "the square" and hit them as places to gather, rather than just buying stuff. This rhetoric is well received by Apple's expanded classes, which teach people how to use Apple products and software.
But it also emphasized that Apple wanted to buy or lease long-term flagship features in big cities around the world and turn them into stores, and it was the key phrase that protesters locked on when fighting these planned Apple extensions. Protesters have already resisted Apple's stores in major controversies in Stockholm and in Melbourne, Australia.
& # 39; This is what you were born to do & # 39;
Ahrendts also found it uncomfortable to lead a large division of retail employees. Before Apple Watch launched, she said in an address to employees that "this is what you were born to do," annoys some retailers who see the job as just a part of life.
Even Ahrendts seemed tired of a number-focused retail trade in a recent interview, and she seemed to know about a smaller, fashion-oriented challenge. (Apple retailers are close to the track with something called Net Promoter Score, and although Apple doesn't make many calculations for its stores to investors, they are carefully monitored internally.)
"The retail tragedy is that it has become roughly number , "Ahrendts Vogue Business said. "It's about cutting the road to prosperity rather than investing in your people, and in that environment, great isn't always good."
Apple has 70,000 retail employees of its 132,000 employees, and the entire company median fee is $ 55,426, providing a ballpark for what most retailers do. Ahrendts was one of Apple's highest paid executives – she made approx. $ 70 million in equity certificate when she came to Apple and $ 20 to $ 30 million in total compensation most years.
What remains to be seen is how many of Ahrendt's changes will eventually hold. Like 9to5Macs Michael Steeber, who follows Apple's detailed close, tweeted : "It feels like Apple is developing the purpose of putting trees in the stores and depreciating the term" Genius Grove. ""
But other changes, such as the closer online-to-physical integration, will most likely be in place for a while under B & # 39; Brien. She is an Apple Lifer, who has worked for the company for 30 years and has given her background in operation – CEO Tim Cook's specialty – she will probably keep many of the Ahrendts era changes in place and keep the trains running.