Undercover author explains how Apple Stores work

Alex Frankel spent two years working undercover in entry level jobs at UPS, the Gap, the Container Store, Home Depot, Starbucks, and Apple. Frankel’s experiences are detailed in his new book Punching In: The Unauthorized Adventures of a Frontline Employee (Harper Collins, coming later this month).

In an excerpt for Fast Company, Frankel explains why Apple tops all retail operations:

Once on staff, I learned the difference between a gigahertz and a gigabyte, but more important, I saw that, like the iPod’s user interface, training of Apple Store employees has been carefully designed. A series of podcasts I listened to and watched showed that selling was all about the approach. I shadowed other workers as they executed the company’s three-step sales process. They explained to customers that they had some questions to understand their needs, got permission to fire away, and then kept digging to ascertain which products would be best. Position, permission, probe.

All this sets the employee’s on-the-job attitude. At an Apple Store, workers don’t seem to be selling (or working) too hard, just hanging out and dispensing information. And that moves a ridiculous amount of goods: Apple employees help sell $4,000 worth of product per square foot per month. When employees become sharers of information, instead of sellers of products, customers respond.

Full article here.

[Attribution: Fortune. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Too Hot!” for the heads up.]


  1. I’ve always appreciated that I can walk into the Apple Store at Village Pointe in Omaha and not be hassled. The employees are perfectly fine with me playing around with the goods.

    I’ve got a Macbook and one of the new iMacs, but my iPod is showing its age (Gen 4, 20 gig). That’ll be my next purchase, and I don’t need a salesperson to push it on me. I just need the chance to play around with the options, and these Apple Stores allow people to do just that.

    The innovative ways of checking out when I do buy something don’t hurt the experience, either. I love those freakin’ stores . . .

  2. I was at an Apple Store last night. And I cant tell you how true this is. I was free to walk around the store at will and play with everything, even when I zeroed in on a product they let me be. But the second I began looking around like I might need help they were right there to assist.

    I walked out of the Apple Store shocked at how comfortable it was.

  3. @Hot Carl: dude, think for a second. Manhattan. Lunch time. Is there any place in New York City that ISN’T crowded at lunch time? An Apple Genius Bar would have to be the length of Long Island to handle all the questions people have in a city the size of New York.

    Take my advice, brother: pick another time to see a Genius.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.