Apple stores to get facelift

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stores, long considered a best-in-class retail format, are scheduled for a remodel as the company prepares for the release of the Apple Watch.

Apple Design Chief Jonathan Ive has been tapped by the company's Senior VP of retail, Angela Ahrendts, to redesign the store, or at least part of the store, to create a more luxurious atmosphere and VIP setting to sell Apple Watches.

According to a profile of Ive in The New Yorker, the watch lends itself to a more exclusive and high-end customer.

The form plus function equation has long been the key to Apple's success. Retail stores have followed the same formula since the first location opened in Tyson's Corner, Virginia in 2001. Sleek and unique, Apple broke the mold for electronics stores and set a new standard. There have been tweaks to the format over the years, but the locations remain bustling meeting places designed to encourage interaction with the products.

The upcoming watch could change all that. While the base model is expected to cost $350, prices rise from there—and the sky's the limit. In fact, an 18-karat gold model could sell for $5,000 and up.

Selling watches is much different than computers and mobile devices. Whereas one requires shoppers to touch and test, the other is an assisted sale. Apple won't be tethering high-priced watches to tables. Instead, it will need some form of jewelry case and secluded area within the store.

Of course, Apple stores won't suddenly look like a Tiffany. Ive's passion for design, for Apple products and select passion projects indicate the updated stores will be decidedly different.

For more:
-See this New Yorker article
-See this Retailing Today story

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