Apple’s New Retail Chief Shares Innovative Vision for the Future

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) new senior vice president of retail and online stores, will soon be implementing some dramatic changes in the company’s retail operations, according to insider sources that recently spoke with 9to5Mac. Ahrendts officially joined Apple earlier this month after serving as CEO of iconic British luxury fashion house Burberry for nearly eight years where she was widely credited for revitalizing the brand. Ahrendts’ success in the UK was recently made even more apparent when she was named honorary dame commander of the British Empire last month. Until she was tapped to become Apple’s new retail chief last fall, the iPhone maker had been without a head of retail since former Dixon CEO John Browett was fired in October of 2012. However, CEO Tim Cook had taken over retail operations duties while the company was hunting for a replacement.

Based on information acquired from 9to5Mac’s exclusive sources, Ahrendts is focused on improving three key facets of Apple’s retail and online stores. First, Ahrendts is very interested in expanding Apple’s retail presence in China. This is not especially surprising, considering that some of Ahrendts’ biggest innovations at Burberry centered on Chinese customers. As noted by Fast Company, Ahrendts oversaw the reintegration of Burberry’s franchise business in China and made sure that Mandarin speaking sales associates were always available at all of the company’s major retail stores.

According to 9to5Mac’s sources, Ahrendts will place a similar emphasis on China in Apple’s retail operations. While there are currently only ten Apple Stores in China, the company will expand that number to thirty over the next two years, reports 9to5Mac.

The second major aspect of Apple’s retail operations that Ahrendts wants to focus on is mobile payments, according to sources cited by 9to5Mac. As previously reported by The Wall Street Journal, Apple executive Jennifer Bailey has been tasked with establishing a new mobile payments service. According to 9to5Mac, Ahrendts is closely following this initiative and is working with vice president of online retail Bob Kupbens on new ways to merge the shopping experiences of Apple’s brick-and-mortar stores with its online store. Again, this initiative appears to be similar to plans that Ahrendts implemented when she was at Burberry, where she made sure that the experience of the company’s website was seamlessly duplicated in the physical retail stores, reports Fast Company.

The third aspect that Ahrendts wants to focus on is a complete redesign of the Apple Store consumer experience, reports 9to5Mac. This will encompass a new mobile payments service, but will also include changing how the customer finds products in the store, as well as how sales associates handle customer inquiries about products. Although Ahrendts has been in her new position at Apple for less than a month, 9to5Mac’s sources noted that she has already impressed Apple Store sales associates and managers that have spoken with her. With an innovative leader like Ahrendts at the helm, it appears that Apple’s retail operations are about to head in a new and exciting direction.

Follow Nathanael on Twitter (@ArnoldEtan_WSCS)

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet: