9to5Mac is reporting that Apple CEO Tim Cook headlined a recent three-hour strategy meeting in which he outlined plans to bring a higher percentage of iPhone sales to the company's retail stores. At the present time, only about 20 percent of all iPhones are sold through Apple Stores, with the remaining 80 percent of sales coming from online purchases, other retailers (Walmart and Best Buy, for example) and cellular carriers.
While the majority of customers are purchasing their iPhones via other outlets, they rely on Apple Stores for troubleshooting, repair or replacement. Cook apparently laid out the advantages of more in-store purchases to top retail managers from around the world, including the need to expose customers to other Apple technology within the stores and to keep potential customers from being steered away from the iPhone by "biased and bribed" employees at other outlets who may receive incentives for selling competing phones.
To lure customers to the stores, Cook reportedly hinted at a series of incentives. The recently announced "Back to School" program that provides a US$50 gift card to students who purchase an iPhone at an Apple Store is apparently part of the plan, and it's expected that more ideas will be floated at a July 28th sales meeting. Ideas such as an iPhone trade-in plan -- where customers can trade in an old or damaged iPhone for a refurbished iPhone 5 -- and a way for Apple Stores to directly match discounted pricing offered by other retailers like RadioShack.
iOS 7 was apparently on the docket for the meeting as well, with Cook stressing the criticality of the updated mobile OS to the company's future fortunes and executives discussing how best to promote the new version when it ships this fall.