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Apple Retail Chief Angela Ahrendts Profiled

BuzzFeed News profiles Apple Senior Vice President of Retail Angela Ahrendts in an in-depth feature today. Ahrendts, who took over Apple’s online and physical retail operations in 2014 and manages over half of Apple’s workforce, is portrayed in each of her roles within the company starting with the launch of iPhone 8 pre-orders online:

At midnight, the war room’s server activity chart ticks abruptly from green to red under a flood of incoming iPhone orders. On the wall, blinking red lights begin flashing across a digital world map with a concentrated flurry of activity in China and South Asia.

As author Nicole Nguyen explains, Ahrendts’ first order of business when she took over retail operations was to update Apple’s online experience. Those efforts included better integration between Apple’s online and physical stores, which reports say are now second only to Amazon in sales revenue.

However, the majority of Nguyen’s story is focused on Apple’s physical stores, which have been the focus of Ahrendts’ attention most recently. BuzzFeed News was on hand for the opening of Apple’s new Michigan Avenue store in Chicago last week. That store, like ones coming to Paris and Milan, represents Apple’s strategy to target cities worldwide:

…the core of the strategy is doubling down on metropolitan areas. Ahrendts’s team conducted an extensive study of cities, looking at factors such as tourism, technology usage, and demographics, an approach taken from her roots in high-end fashion. “One of the things I took from luxury is you look at the top cities in the world; you don’t just look at the countries. We did a lot of analysis, really studying the top 100 cities in the world, and not just now, but by 2020 and by 2025. Because you really need to target your investment,” she said.

In addition, Ahrendts is overseeing the renovation of 400 existing stores and expanding the benefits of employees who work at them.

The feature ends with Ahrendts overseeing the distribution of iPhone 8s and other pre-ordered items from a UPS facility in Kentucky. Like many things with Apple, the scale of the operations that Ahrendts manages is almost too vast to comprehend, but Nguyen does an excellent job of capturing both the scope of those operations and the personality that Ahrendts brings to her role.