Yes, you read that right.

If you were actually answering that question, you might have said the iPhone. Maybe even the iPad, MacBook, Apple TV or Apple Watch… but I doubt you would have answered it with “the store”. Yet that’s exactly what Apple’s Retail Chief, Angela Ahrendts, told Fortune Magazine at a recent conference.

Apple stores are being redesigned to feature a Town Square that connects each location to the community it serves. Anchoring the space is a “huge” digital screen that defines the forum area. Customer needs are handled by roaming staff dubbed “creative pros” who are solely available to teach customers skills such as how to take better pictures with their iPhone’s camera or how to use photography apps. They also help with downloading Apple Music, gaming and art apps. 

What does all of this sound like? Well if you’re familiar with Weber Marketing Group’s retail design services, we hope you would say it sounds like the vision and model that we craft for many of our retail financial services clients all across North America.

Connected to the community? Check.

Universal associates educating clients on products and services? Check.

Engagement space for events, seminars and clinics? Check.

Self-serve automation for transactions monitored by fewer FTEs? Check.

Several years ago we used to hold the Apple Store and the Genius Bar up as the gold standard of retail design. Everyone would fawn over the coolness factor of the space. Well now it appears that Apple is heeding the advice that we often dispense to our clients when it comes to retail modeling…. it’s not the design. It’s your brand experience and business model that should be driving strategic decisions about how the space unfolds and connects. And a big part of that strategy usually involves an integrated community component.

Apple acknowledges that retail, and the communities it serves, is a vital component of their delivery. Check.

What’s the state of your brick & mortar network? Should we be working on a solution to integrate it into the communities you serve with a differentiated brand experience? If you check this statement, maybe you should check out Weber Marketing Group.