Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts wants her company to distinguish itself from other tech companies by embodying a philosophy of enriching lives.
“Apple has taken a leadership position when it comes to environmental responsibility. We have human responsibility,” Ahrendts said. “I think it’s important that the largest tech company in the world invest in humans.”
The top Apple executive was interviewed at the Cannes Lions Festival in France on Wednesday by Tor Myhren, Apple's vice president marketing communications.
Ahrendts revealed that for the first time Apple is measuring how well it is doing on that mission, surveying Apple store customers and examining employee feedback.
She explained that the company has an internal social network called Loop that is examined by Ph.D. students for data that helps improve systems.
Commenting on the retail environment in the U.S., where big retailers are often closing storefronts, she said that Apple was expanding its stores so that they are not just retail outlets but places of learning, adding that she told Apple CEO Tim Cook she wanted to renovate Washington D.C.’s Carnegie Library, which will become the city's biggest classroom when it opens.
Apple staff, she said, were hired for their empathy skills.
“They are not hired to sell," she said. "There is no commission, no quotas. What we’ve tried to do is keep uniting them around the big vision and the impact we want to make.”
Ahrendts, who said she hadn’t initially intended to join Apple from fashion company Burberry but was persuaded by Cook, noted that Apple was not measuring for quantity but measuring, “how we made you feel. We’re trying to be the largest platform ever built for enriching lives. Did we help you unlock your creative thinking?”
“I hope there are not too many finance guys watching,” she joked.
“Retail is not dying,” she said, but stores have serve a bigger purpose than “just selling things.”