Saturday, 31 January 2015

Apple's China Expansion

Staff standing in front of the Apple Store in Shanghai's IFC mall
A few days ago Apple announced it had beat analysts' expectations with profits of a record $18 billion in the last quarter of 2014, selling 74.5 million iPhones, while sales in China rose a staggering 70 percent.

This indicates China is the right place for Apple to further grow its business and plans are already underway to open a number of stores on the mainland, with five opening just before Chinese New Year.

Not only is Apple hiring local employees, but its senior vice president of retail sales Angela Ahrendts has already put out a call in video messages to US-based staff asking if anyone would be interested in relocating to China.

Within a few days there are reports about 200 Apple retail staff have expressed interest in making the big leap to the Chinese mainland. Ahrendts notes the offer to move to China "has no expiration date because as the business grows, our needs will only become greater, so as your personal and professional life changes, just always keep China at the top of your mind, because we're going to need you..."

But how would all-American staff be able to help with sales in China when the vast majority of the customers don't speak English? Or does the "white man card" give Apple greater prestige, even though the retail staff currently don't make that much in salary?

How would having American employees in China benefit retail operations other than standing around and saying "hi" to customers? And how would this experience help advance (if at all) the career of a lowly retail staffer?

While I would like to think the experience being in China would be invaluable to these young Americans, they could provide priceless information to management about Chinese consumer habits as well as preferences in how they use Apple products. But is that Apple's main intention?

Perhaps I'm jaded, but it seems like the highly sought-after brand is chasing the 1 billion customer market and enhancing stockholder value than really looking at the reason why they should be having more American retail employees in China.

Another hurdle would be convincing the Chinese government that Apple needs so many foreign staff in their mainland stores to grant them work visas when the mainland economy is slowing down and more young people need jobs...

No comments:

Post a Comment