Apple CentralWorld opens

Apple CentralWorld opens

iPhone maker plays safe by requiring bookings for its biggest store in Asean

Customers queue outside the new Apple store at the CentralWorld shopping centre on Friday. (Photo by Nutthawat Wichieanbut)
Customers queue outside the new Apple store at the CentralWorld shopping centre on Friday. (Photo by Nutthawat Wichieanbut)

Consumers finally got to see what all the hype was about when the Apple retail store at CentralWorld opened on Friday, with 11 rounds of limited group visits fully booked at the iPhone maker's second official store in Thailand.

In Southeast Asia, Apple has official stores only in Thailand and Singapore, which highlights what the company sees as the potential of the Thai market for its products. 

Apple CentralWorld is the 511th Apple store in the world and the second, after a Chinese outlet, to open since the coronavirus pandemic erupted.

On the first day at CentralWorld, Apple required advance online bookings for visitors, spread over 11 rounds of visits from 9am to 10pm. About 30 visitors were permitted to enter at a time.

Joining the first round, Pattara Pattaravoratham, an 18-year-old medical student at Vajira Hospital, said the launch of the store excited him as an Apple user. It is more convenient for him to travel to the new store than Apple’s first store at Iconsiam.

He said he was impressed by the 360-degree aspect of the store, which is a standalone location similar to the Orchard Road store in Singapore, which he once visited.

Mr Pattara said he still prefers offline shops where he can touch and feel devices and receive support from Apple staff. He said he loves the reliability of the Apple system.

Arachaporn Sripaawatakulq, an 18-year-old Mahidol University student, said she had been waiting for the launch of the new store for a long time as she kept an eye on the construction for about a year.

She uses an iPhone, an iPad and an Apple Watch and says she loves the after-sales service at Apple.

At Apple CentralWorld, more than 130 staff members speaking 17 languages assist customers.

As the coronavirus remains a threat, the company has health and safety measures in place, including a mask requirement, temperature checks and social distancing.

The three-storey Apple CentralWorld features the first-ever all-glass design, housed under a cantilevered Tree Canopy roof.

Customers can travel between two levels via a spiral staircase that wraps around a timber core, or ride a unique cylindrical elevator clad in mirror-polished stainless steel.

The new store’s features include a boardroom, freestanding displays as well as a forum space.

Paramate Rienjaroensuk, chief executive of Copperwired Plc, one of the Apple authorised resellers in Thailand, said he was impressed by the architecture of the new Apple store.

“This new branch is one of the most beautiful shops and one that could be another new landmark,” Mr Paramate said, citing his visits to various Apple stores globally. “This demonstrates how important the Thai market is."

He admitted that the new store could affect Copperwired shops in terms of visitors, particularly those coming to its branches in CentralWorld and Siam.

But in the long run, he said, the new store would help promote the Apple brand over Android products, he said.

According to Mr Paramate, Copperwired will focus on university students by opening a new store in the Sam Yan area and other sites, while pursuing a membership model to attract more student customers.

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