Apple wants its stores to be the place you hang out at with your friends, and part of the push to make that happen includes a new program called “Today at Apple.” The program includes free seminars to teach creative skills using Apple products taught by employees, and where available, industry experts.
Apple senior vice president of Retail Angela Ahrendts said,
At the heart of every Apple Store is the desire to educate and inspire the communities we serve. ‘Today at Apple’ is one of the ways we’re evolving our experience to better serve local customers and entrepreneurs.
More than 60 sessions are planned right now covering topics like photo and sketch walks, making movies, programming robots, creating music, and more. Apple says there will be sessions for beginners and experts so there’s something for everyone.
The sessions start in May, and Ahrendts expects they’ll help draw in the local community. “We’re creating a modern-day town square, where everyone is welcome in a space where the best of Apple comes together to connect with one another, discover a new passion, or take their skill to the next level,” she said.
Going for a town square feel is essentially what local coffee shops are already doing, and that’s something Apple wants to be in on. Not just a store, but a social gathering place.
Adding compelling activities and seminars can help draw people in, and time will tell if that helps turn Apple’s stores into the place you go hang out. That’ll take more than cool presentations, and looking at your favorite coffee shop drives that point home. They’re places people feel comfortable chatting, working on their computers, and killing time.
Apple needs to overcome the ingrained notion that going to stores is just a shopping experience. Today at Apple can certainly help with that, but maybe Ahrendts also needs to copy a Barnes & Noble strategy and add in-store coffee shops, too. Teach people, let them buy a drink, and give them a cool place to hangout and maybe do a little work. That’s how Apple can turn its stores into the modern-day town square.