Apple has updated its executive profiles webpage to remove “online stores” from its retail chief Angela Ahrendts’ bio. Her new title is, simply, Senior Vice President Retail.
It appears the new title is a cosmetic change for its retail branding rather than a change in roles for Ahrendts. It’s my understanding that the title change is to better reflect Angela’s role that merges both retail stores and online retail operations, and not a result of a shift in responsibilities. Her updated bio still notes that she is responsible for “strategy, real estate & development, and operations of Apple’s physical stores, Apple’s online store and contact centers.”
It seems likely the change could be part of an overall revamping of the company’s retail store branding. In August, Apple started removing the word “store” from its “Apple Store” retail listings, now referring to store locations as, for instance, “Apple Union Square” and “Apple Fifth Avenue”.
Apple still refers to the “Apple Store” a few places on its website, and for its Apple Store iOS app, but those seem to be the last two things it will have to change to drop “store” entirely from its retail branding after the title change for Ahrendts.
Ahrendts first joined Apple from her role as Burberry CEO in May of 2014 as the company’s Senior Vice Present of Retail and Online Stores, overseeing both its physical Apple retail locations and online store through Apple.com and the Apple Store iOS app. She became the highest paid female executive in the US through stocks and bonuses after starting her new position that year.
Apple’s retail strategy for its iPhone 7 launch last month notably put more of a focus on its online pre-order and reservation systems than years past. Most iPhone 7 stock was reserved for pre-orders, with a very limited supply of devices for walk-in customers leading to shorter lines and less scenes of Black Friday-like crowds at Apple retails stores in the US.
Apple retail employees instead were often encouraging customers to order through Apple’s online systems, either for shipping to their home or a scheduled pick-up time at a local store. One theory is that the approach helps cut down on scalpers that purchase stock of iPhones on launch day to resell for more in markets where the device is not yet available. Apple also continued its iPhone Upgrade Program this year, meaning customers part of that program only had the option of reserving for in store pick-up at an Apple Store, something that also could have help cut down on lines outside of Apple stores and third-party retailers.
Ahrendts has often been a public face of Apple since joining the company, making frequent appearances for new store openings and discussing the company’s retail operations in interviews.