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Sozzi: Apple Awaits the Arrival of New Retail Visionary

Stocks in this article: AAPL MSFT SNE

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It's almost April, believe it or not, and that means one huge thing is about to happen to Apple (AAPL). No, not the release of its latest earnings report. Former Burberry rockstar CEO Angela Ahrendts will begin her long-awaited tenure as senior vice president of Apple's global retail store operation.

At $6,000 in sales per square foot, Apple's retail stores aren't exactly on a Circuit City-like death trajectory. Crowds still mob the stores during the holidays and when a new iPhone or iPad are released. However, the real deal is this: Apple's retail stores haven't evolved much since wowing us all in 2001, while the likes of Microsoft (MSFT) and Sony (SNE) have upped their customer experiences significantly. Microsoft has large screen TV demo stations for its Xbox One. Sony stores frequently have DJs playing loud music on the weekends to lure in passersby. Apple stores, well, are still white with wood tables and non-interactive walls.

Change is coming, more so in 2015 than 2014. Apple's stores must evolve to keep pace with how people are now interacting with its devices and the apps on them. Also, Apple's lack of store evolution has led people to buy its new products online, causing big-time missed opportunities to cross sell. Consider: according to Tim Cook, a mere 20% of its iPhones are sold in its retail stores! Here are three things I anticipate Ahrendts to do:

  • One: embark on at least a three-month global retail store trip, studying the stores and the processes of the team. After that, the start of coordinated worldwide training days.
  • Two: evolve the interior of the store, creating customer experience zones and interactive walls that show the consumer how all of Apple's products could be used to enhance their lives.
  • Three: usher in digital storefronts that showcase live streaming Apple-related content from around the globe. This streaming content will mirror the newly redesigned Apple Web site.

-- By Brian Sozzi CEO of Belus Capital Advisors, analyst to TheStreet.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

At the time of publication, Sozzi held no position in the stocks mentioned.

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