Apple Store coming to Singapore: 5 things about the tech giant's retail chain

Customers queue inside an Apple store in Hong Kong on Sept 25, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Plans for an Apple Store in Orchard Road were leaked when popular gym Pure Fitness, in e-mails sent to its members on Monday (Oct 26), said it had to relinquish its current space at Knightsbridge mall to make way.

The store, said to open next year, will take over the premises vacated by Pure Fitness' 15,000 sq ft gym and other tenants in the four-storey mall, which houses brands such as luxury watch boutique The Hour Glass and upscale casual wear chain Abercombie & Fitch.

Knightsbridge mall along Orchard Road, which opened in 2010. PHOTO: GRAND PARK ORCHARD

Details, however, are scant on how the store will look like - Apple Stores in other parts of the world are known for their visually-arresting facades.

Here are five things to know about an Apple Store.

1. This is Apple's first official brick and mortar store in Singapore

Thus far, there have only been authorised premium resellers operating in Singapore, while Apple also maintains an online store. Leading retailers EpiCentre, which opened in 2002, and Nübox come closest to replicating the brand's famous white aesthetic at their stores - EpiCentre currently has seven outlets, while Nübox has 11.

Customers browsing and trying out the Apple products on display at EpiCentre's Ion Orchard store. PHOTO: ST FILE

iShop, owned by luxury retailer Club 21, was billed as the largest Apple reseller in Asia when it opened its 10,000 sq ft store in Orchard Cineleisure at the end of 2005, but it shuttered in June 2009 due to weakening sales.

2. Current count of Apple Stores across the world: 463

A photo gallery of the storefronts of all 463 Apple Stores around the world can be found on an online visual database. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM APPLESTOREFRONTS.APPSPOT.COM

Apple currently has a direct retail presence in 16 countries - Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Two more stores in the United Arab Emirates - in Dubai's Mall of the Emirates and Abu Dhabi's Yas Mall - are set to open on Thursday (Oct 29).

A record of every Apple Store ever opened, complete with a photo of their storefront, is available on an online visual database. It was started as a passion project by design student Thomas Park, who wanted to "go back and see how Apple storefronts have evolved over the past decade".

3. You will be attended to by "geniuses"

Staff welcoming the very first customer as the iPhones 6s and 6s Plus go on sale at an Apple Store in Beijing on Sept 25, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

Apple retail employees go by unusual job titles - according to former employee Dylan Adams, there are three different positions. Specialists are the "everyday grunts" who work the floor and assist customers with their queries, while Creatives conduct workshops and one-on-one lessons on specialty topics such as photography, video or audio.

Geniuses are those who man the Genius Bar, a staple feature at most Apple Stores. Referred to as the "heart and soul of our stores" by former vice-president for retail Ron Johnson, the bars help customers with troubleshooting and repairs.

All new retail recruits are given a "secret" Genius Training Manual, which instructs them on a wide range of topics: from the general dos and don'ts to the basic science of making a customer happy. Geniuses also have to undergo a 14-day "bootcamp" that hones their technical skills and provides human relations tips.

At the opening of Shanghai's first Apple Store in 2010, Shanghaiist website reported that nearly all the 175 employees - 75 per cent of whom were locals - were "zealously enthused about helping customers buy Apple".

4. The Singapore store might look super snazzy

People standing outside the Apple Store on New York's Fifth Avenue on Aug 5, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

While a number of stores, particularly those located in shopping malls, adopt a cookie cutter look and feel, there are quite a few which stand out.

Apple's stunning Istanbul store, which opened last year, was designed by renowned British architect Norman Foster and resembles a Macbook from above.

The storefront on New York's Fifth Avenue is a 10m glass cube featuring a glass staircase that leads into the store underground, while stores in Berlin, London and Paris incorporate the traditional architecture of the building it is housed in.

There is hope that given this is the maiden Apple Store in Singapore, Apple might just have something different up its sleeve.

5. Freebies galore at opening of Singapore's Apple Store?

Chinese customers browsing products at the opening of a new Apple Store in Dalian, Liaoning province, on Oct 24, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

Apple news blog MacRumours, which reported on the tech giant's plans to open a new retail store in Australia in July, said Apple often celebrates an opening by offering specially designed T-shirts to the first 1,000 customers.

At the maiden Shanghai store's opening, one-to-one memberships were also available with the first 1,000 Macbook purchases.

Apple diehards can also expect plenty of unique products and Macbooks to be on display for customers to try out, depending on the actual size of the store.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.