Apple Wants More Enriching In-Store Experiences

Forbes – If it’s true that consumers today are more into experiences than simply buying products off of shelves, than Apple may be onto something with its new generation design focused on transforming its locations into something akin to “town squares.”

Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of retail, told attendees at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit that the company’s new generation of stores is more about enriching the lives of its customers than simply selling them things. Ms. Ahrendts, as reported by MacRumors, told attendees that Apple’s mission goes beyond simply generating ever-greater profits. “The bigger the company, the bigger the obligation,” she told attendees, going on to explain her vision of Apple’s retail locations serving as places for education and community.

The new stores, as reported by Fortune, will hold what Ms. Ahrendts called “Teacher Tuesdays” to help educators discover ways they may more effectively bring technology into classrooms. The stores will also conduct three “how to code” sessions daily for kids, parents and teachers. Apple already offers summer tech camps at its locations. Creative pros will also be available to help customers learn how to perform tasks, such as taking better photos using their iPhones. These associates serve a function beyond Apple’s Genuises who are on hand to help customers with products in need of repair.

By the end of the year, 95 of Apple’s stores nearly 500 stores will be remodeled to reflect the company’s new vision for its retail business. Among the new community features of the new stores is Apple’s plan to recruit artists, musicians and others to “bring people out of their digital bubbles,” according to MacRumors.

In an online discussion last week, the RetailWire BrainTrust generally supported Apple’s town square concept, pointing out that management is only codifying a strategy they have long been winning with.

“The town square approach is essentially making the current community center mindset more formal,” said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners. “I don’t think the ‘town square’ terminology or store layout will dramatically change consumers’ perception of Apple, as consumers are already flocking to Apple store for the experience and education that are a part of Apple’s DNA.”

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Could Ticketmaster’s extension with University of Florida herald the future of online ticketing?

Mobile Commerce Daily – In a move indicative of the changing ticketing industry, Ticketmaster has extended its partnership with the University of Florida as its official ticketing partner, allowing sales through Ticketmaster’s mobile-optimized Web site and app.

Ostensibly a continuation of a successful collaboration at face value, examining the elements at play during negotiation and looking at shifts in the broader market could have implications for the future of the online ticketing industry. Similar moves to monopolize programs’ primary and secondary ticket sales channels by competitors like StubHub tell a tale of online ticketing giants in an arms race, preparing for future skirmishes in the mobile space.

“With the majority of Internet usage now taking place on mobile devices, it is imperative that all e-commerce is mobile friendly,” said David Naumann, vice president of Marketing at Boston Retail Partners. “Retailers and service providers are offering mobile friendly Web sites, mobile apps or both to make shopping easy.”

“Given the nature of ticketing, it makes sense to have a single source of service to prevent any chance of double-selling any seats. A one-stop shop for your team’s tickets also make it easier for marketing tickets on the team’s Web site and for fans to know where to shop for tickets.”

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Retailers to ID Customers Via Smart Phones, Report Says

Mobile Enterprise – Consumers’ love affair with smart technology has only amplified their demand for a seamless experience across all channels, including the store, the Web and via their mobile device. Retailers may be scrambling to meet these elevated demands, but those who get it right are setting the tone for “real-time retail, according to “BRP Special Report: Real-Time Retail – The New Retail Imperative,” a new report from Boston Retail Partners.

Read full article: Retailers to ID Customers Via Smart Phones, Report Says