Partner Watch

Apple a day

Hani Nehme, deputy GM, iSTYLE

What is iSTYLE all about?

Established in 2005, iSTYLE was quick to lead the march in the Apple retail segment by setting up stores at high traffic locations.

We started our operations with a retail store at the Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai shortly after which we began to witness a huge demand for Apple premium products in the region. With the 2006 launch of the popular iPod line in addition to the MacBook Pro, the demand for the latest products grew even further and we soon began revising our strategy to reach out to a larger customer base across the region.

Our aim was to reach out to different cities, offering a one stop shop for everything Apple, run by Apple experts catering to both consumers and professionals alike. We aim to reduce the hesitancy of switching to Mac and break long grown stereotypes and customer sentiments towards Apple products.

Today, we operate one of the largest chains of Apple reseller stores across the Europe, Middle East and Africa, running more than 40 stores across the region. iSTYLE operations in the Middle East are head quartered in  Dubai with retail locations across  Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Khobar, and Riyadh employing more than a  100 employees.

So who is the typical iSTLYE customer?

Consumers and professionals alike, or more simply the ‘prosumer’ segment of the market are key customers to iSTYLE. Most recently, faculty and students have become an extensive customer base due to the launch of our Educational Program that offers discounted prices to students and faculty and therefore we now offer year-round educational discounts.

We have also seen quite a bit of interest from small and medium business (SMB) segment who prefer to buy and set up their own simple infrastructure, as opposed to investing in the standard non-retail reseller options. However, with the exciting Apple lineup of products, our target market continues to grow and widen, and we expect this to continue as we set up stores at convenient and popular locations across the region.

What would you say is the key industry challenge?

The grey market still poses considerable nuisance to our concept. Many electronics retailers sell grey market Apple products. Their proposition is solely based on price with no Apple expertise, end user guarantees, service nor support.

This said, I see this segment of the market diminishing as more people understand the benefits of buying at authorised points of sales such as iSTYLE, as we continue to extend our reach, offer competitive prices and quicker delivery options to customers across the region.

What are your plans for the near future?

At the moment we are concentrating on giving our customers and Apple enthusiasts extra support and added value. Later this month, we intend to launch the iSTYLE Loyalty card that will be available to all our customers from any of our outlets. The card will allow consumers to collect reward points to save on future purchases in addition to offering retroactive points on previous purchases for our existing customers as a token of loyalty and appreciation.

We are also working on offering the iSTYLE complimentary training sessions that will be open to the public. The classes will accommodate all categories of users right from beginners to more advanced Apple users to help them get more out of their purchases and guarantee them the best user experience. Attending these training sessions is as easy as registering to a course at one of our stores; our friendly staff will detail users through running courses and respective venues.

Finally, we are most excited about launching the all new iSTYLE Gift Card. With a plethora of attractive Apple and third party products in-store, choosing the ultimate gift may be a challenge.The card allows customers to preload their denomination of choice in-store and present the ultimate gift, customers can then redeem this value through any purchase at any iSTYLE store.

In the coming year, we will also be focusing on expansion throughout the Middle East with an emphasis on Abu Dhabi, where we are due to launch four new stores in addition to a brand new store at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). //


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