More visitors, more revenue and more profit do not guarentee future success for Apple’s retail stores, which may be why the company is working hard to improve its retail sales operations, even now in trial at certain Canadian stores. Multiple sources are definite on the initiative, but haven’t provided details on how procedures, staffing or technical systems might change. The best clues come from four Apple corporate job listings that were posted in the last two weeks, focusing on the iPod touch point-of-sale (POS) system, possible introduction of mobile purchasing by customers, mobile marketing, and possibly the mobile Concierge sign-up app that has been rumored for the past six months. Apple’s job postings are notoriously vague, but the new listings provide enough detail to spark significant speculation.
First, two job listings focus on “mobile commerce,” which are part of the company’s “greater retail marketing team…to develop and implement successful marketing initiatives designed to build Apple’s brand awareness, grow market share, drive sales and build loyalty.” There are openings for both a Product Manager and Sr. Project Manager positions, both working on, “how Apple Retail will meet future market demands in the field of Mobile Commerce,” according to the listings.
The description suggests several scenarios for future store visitors: scanning product barcodes with their iPhone to read product descriptions and prices, or automatically checking in for a Concierge visit when you walk in the door. Visitors with iPhones might automatically wirelessly receive product information, or event and training schedule on their iPhone as they approach a store, or there might be other two-way communications with Apple via an iPhone app about products and store services. An iPhone might be used to sign-up for personal training sessions, or it might become a portal for a customer’s product registration and One to One membership information.
And, now that Apple’s store personnel are using an iPod touch for point-of-sale, there might even be some interaction between a visitor’s iPhone or touch and the staff’s touch, much like the Bump social networking app available for the iPhone.
“Become an integral member of the small, dedicated Apple Retail team as we enter the world of Mobile Commerce,” the listing for the Product Manager states. “Work closely with a cross-functional, worldwide organization to implement creative new retail strategies. If you are passionate about technology, customer-focused, and entrepreneurial, you can make an immediate impact.”
Among the job requirements for Product Manager is “4+ years” of software product management/marketing experience, “with proven track record of stellar product. Experience with entire product lifecycle (from concept through launch) required.”
The Sr. Program Manager position requires a minimum of eight years “mobile commerce marketing program management experience on client or agency side.”
The other two positions focus on the “Family Room,” which is the rear half of a typical store, where the Genius Bar appointments and training sessions take place. There are positions for a Family Room New Initiatives Manager, and a Project Manager: Family Room Retail Systems. The former position will focus more on procedures and policies, and the latter will focus on “global systems,” including technology.
The New Initiatives Manager will be the, “primary point of contact for development, testing, and implementation of new initiatives and programs in the Family Room,” the job listing states. The person must have, “demonstrated ability to think creatively/globally, turn information into effective strategies, and drive results,” along with other general requirements.
The Project Manager position, “is responsible for end-to-end delivery of Family Room global systems projects,” the job listing says. An ideal candidate would excel at, “coordinating cross-functional resources who work together effectively to deliver projects within specific timelines and that meet the business requirements and priorities.”
The minimum qualifications for the position include a “strong knowledge and proven work experience with Family Room operations and systems including web-based applications.” Perhaps most revealing, it also requires, “strong knowledge of Concierge system, including functionality and reporting,” possibly pointing to the rumored mobile Concierge sign-up system for customers.
Sources say that some Family Room changes have already occurred at some Canada stores, part of a two-month evaluation before anything is rolled out to the entire chain.
Besides the four listings, Apple just posted a new position for Multimedia Producer, who will create photo and video media for internal projects related to the retail stores. The job description says the candidate, “needs to have a strong ability for visual storytelling,” and must be ready, “to produce engaging projects (which) range from short movies in our studio to remote, multi-location shoots.”E-mail this story