Apple is gearing up to launch two giant brick-and-mortar stores in India that, at roughly 10,000 to 15,000 square feet each, may be the brand’s largest retail locations worldwide, according to Patently Apple.
The report comes as Apple is several months into a broad rebranding of its retail strategy, which also has involved revamping existing stores and positioning new stores with the aim to deliver a more community-oriented, town square feeling.
Apple also reopened newly remodeled stores in Cambridge, Mass., at the CambridgeSide Galleria mall, and in Danbury Square, Conn., at the Danbury Fair Mall. Both stores are about twice the square footage that they previously were, according to Apple Insider.
Apple has been redesigning stores for more than a year now since Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts arrived from Burberry and took charge of the project. What at first seemed like little more than physical refinements of Apple’s sleek, minimalist aesthetic has gained some high-minded conceptual messaging in recent months, as Apple articulated its aim to make the stores more like town squares or community centers.
The company is going so deep with this strategy that it doesn’t even want us referring to Apple stores as “stores” anymore, and has been gradually removing the word “store” from its retail location branding since last summer.
At least 95 stores were redesigned during 2016, and the project hasn't slowed down in 2017. The planned stores in India and a recent opening of a new store in Dubai show us that this is a worldwide effort, but Apple seems to be just as busy and just as focused on its store in the U.S. For example, the CambridgeSide Galleria store was moved to a different nearby storefront from its previous location so that it could get the vast space Apple was looking for.
And the space is key if Apple really wants to make its stores into town squares. There needs to be plenty of room for community group meetings, business events, book readings, panel sessions, social media meet-ups and more. What's interesting is that Apple is trying very hard to create something that came effortlessly to a previous generation of coffeehouses (we don't mean Starbucks), bookstores, record stores and locally-owned family restaurants.
How much this open-hearted effort on Apple's part translates into dollars spent at Apple stores remains to be seen. At some point, the stores also need to be effective showrooms for Apple products, and professionally-managed environments where Apple users in need of serious tech help can get it. The new and revamped stores are so big, however, that they may have room for Apple to fulfill all of these requirements.