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Apple upgrading online store in-line with Sunday's retail system changes

Apple has taken its online order status feature offline until May 22 ahead of a retail overhaul planned for the same day that will see store employees equipped with iPads and briefed on several pieces of new retail management software.

"We are currently updating our systems. Starting Sunday, May 22nd, you can visit online Order Status to make changes to your order, track your shipment and more," reads a message from the Apple Online Store.

The timing of the online store upgrades coincides with a large-scale initiative by Apple to improve both its brick-and-mortar and online retail businesses. AppleInsider reported on Wednesday that Apple has been stocking dozens of iPads for retail employee use in stores across the U.S., according to people familiar with the company's retail operations.

Sources also indicated that Apple has prepared an iPad version of its in-house communications client known as RetailMe to be rolled out this weekend. Given that the RetailMe service offers information about products and training videos for retail staff, the proprietary software update may in fact be the password-protected data that employees will download this weekend, according to a separate report.

Reports have emerged that Apple will hold mandatory store meetings this Sunday, May 22 in both the morning and evening. Apple's secretive retail meeting aligns with the 10th anniversary of the company's retail operations, but sources have told AppleInsider that the Cupertino, Calif., company plans to reveal "procedural changes" this weekend, rather than launch any new products.

Retail iPads

Last month, AppleInsider was first to reveal that Apple was limiting employee time off between May 20 and 22, with store managers reportedly "very excited" about those dates.