Rumour has it that Apple might be unveiling its first store in Malaysia. According to a report on Bloomberg, the brand’s recent job listings seeking store managers, technical specialists, support staff and sales people, suggest that Apple is gearing up for a retail push in Malaysia. These job listings found on LinkedIn could also be found by A+M at the time of writing.
While apple is known to be notoriously secretive when divulging plans for its retail spaces, it is well established that the brand has often wowed consumers with its retail outfits. Often its stores are created to reflect the spirit of the city. For instance, Dubai’s Apple store features intricate carbon-fibre shutters which are modelled on traditional Arabic mashrabiya -an architectural element characteristic of the Islamic architecture.
Closer to home, Apple pushed the envelope when it came to Singapore’s Apple store, having it sit directly on the waters of the Singapore river. Entirely surrounded by water and situated right in front of Marina Bay Sands, the store has altered Singapore’s skyline for good. The spherical store is first-of-its-kind, with a structure made purely out of glass, offering customers a 360-degree view of the city and its skyline. With Singapore pushing its image as a tech and innovation hub, the store made for a perfect addition to the city.
When it comes to making its mark felt in Malaysia, William Atyeo, director at Sedgwick Richardson, said that the store should be situated at a place that is inclusive, embracing all cultures and races and not be seen as bias or segregated, and creatively bridges the economical gap in their customer base.
“The store should make a big Apple brand statement - one that becomes a talking point and shows that Apple is the leader, creating products for the future and leading by design,” said Atyeo, adding:
Ideally, it should be bigger than the Singapore Apple stores, to make it an Apple destination for the region.
And as vital as the positioning of the store is, another area to consider when thinking of “Brand Apple” in the retail space is the iconic nature of the store supported by strong customer engagement, hiring products and helping customers really get to know the products, said Ambrish Chaudhary, managing director at Superunion.
“This is the hallmark of Apple’s retail strategy and a reflection of its confidence in its products,” he said, adding:
Apple behaves as a lighthouse brand that knows itself well and sticks to similar template and product and service philosophy across the world.
This key element has not only made its retail spaces iconic, but also led to it becoming the largest company in history by market capitalisation.
Sutapa Bhattacharya, managing director of DIA Brands added that Apple is an iconic brand that enjoys brand love and a cult following that other brands aspire to. One area to note, said Bhattacharya, is that although Malaysians love style, they are also price sensitive. “That has probably been one of the reasons for the relatively low presence and the late arrival of the Apple Store here,” she said.
Since it is Apple, expectations will be high in terms of style and design and the stores are usually extraordinary in design, Bhattacharya added. “The news of the Apple store opening in Malaysia, if proved to be true, is going to be exciting for many fans for sure,” she said.
Ideally, to live up to perceptions of Apple, it would be both spectacular in design, have easy access and be experiential, opening up the world of Apple.
Retail lessons to learn from Apple:
Brands have much to learn from Apple’s robust branding strategy, having amassed such a loyal customer base in the past decade. With its focus on customer experience, Apple ensures that its consumers can expect consistent top quality from the brand. Ambrish Chaudhary, managing director at Superunion added that one lesson brands can learn from Apple is that when retailing a product, the brand must ensure that the retail experience is in service of the product and the customer experience is built around it.
“Give the shopper and opportunity to truly engage with the product and don’t let anything get in the way,” he said. Chaudhary added that it is also important to pay attention to the details – such as billing.
“Apple’s approach to billing is to reduce customer wait times and queues, and Steve Job’s focus on the quality of the shopping bags are great examples of leaving no stone unturned,” he added.
Atyeo echoed a similar sentiment about Apple’s marketing strategy that focuses on empowering the end user. He attributed significance of flagship stores to Apple’s active effort in building seamless experiences. “Apple stores are talking points because they are aesthetically pleasing, architecturally and interiors, challenging the norm in retail formats and enticing consumers into their space,” he added.
He added that at the end of the day, to stand out in the retail space, brands need to focus on being creative and meaningful by ensuring the customer has an emotive and memorable experience where every touchpoint is seamlessly connected. He pointed out that this comes from intricate understanding of your consumer, which then allows the brand to introduce elements of surprise and intrigue.
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