Apple Retail Stores: More than ‘magic’

“Among Apple’s many triumphs in the last decade has been the astonishing success of its retail stores,” Steve Denning blogs for Forbes.

“In 2009, when retail sales declined around 2%, Apple’s retail sales rose roughly 7%,” Denning reports. “In 2010, Apple’s retail sales, excluding online, jumped 70% to $11.7 billion, or about 15% of its revenues of $76.3 billion, compared to the overall retail industry’s sales growth of 4.5%.”

Denning writes, “Most commentators dwell on the obvious but superficial features of Apple’s success including: the good design (airy interiors and attractive lighting, a carefree and casual atmosphere); attractive products (strong demand for the products) and focus (a single brand with far fewer products) scale (only a few hundred stores compared to Best Buy’s more than 4,000) and clever marketing (the Steve Jobs factor).”

“Yet firms that have tried to copy these features like Best Buy [BBY] (which has copied the Geek Squad) and Microsoft [MSFT] (which opened its first branded store in 2009 with some of Apple’s architectural and customer-service ideas), have had less success,” Denning writes. “This can lead analysts to throw up their hands and declare that ‘it’s just magic!,’ i.e. success that is inexplicable by any rational process.”

Denning writes, “In reality, Apple’s success is based on deeper principles…”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Carl H.” and “Ellis D.” for the heads up.]


  1. @ joe blo
    That’s right.

    And the Apple retail experience is less than stellar in my opinion. Futuristic store design does not mean that smug staff and obtuse “policies” should be overlooked.

    Try and get an iMac with a trackpad instead of a mouse. You’ll get excuses about packaging and SKUs. Online, no problem. In store, no can do and smiles all around. (more like smirks)

      1. @ thethirdshoe

        the one near us is like walking inside a fluorescent light. Maybe they are not all the same. What would you call it? Old fashioned? With no cash registers? Listen, I love Apple products but we can still constructively criticize. You are so outraged that someone may have anything bad to say about Apple that you are trying to steer the conversation to one of interior design nomenclature. The other shoe has dropped thirdshoe dude. Show me a more “futuristic” computer store or other store for that matter – loss for words? I thought so.

        1. @ploogman
          No you misunderstood “thethirdshoe”. He is stating that he is Italian and to his European sensibilities there is nothing shockingly “futuristic” about the designs of the Apple stores. This style of retail design is pretty commonplace across Europe. He might have been being a little tongue in cheek about the whole statement.
          He wasn’t being critical of you, lighten up man!

  2. I HATE going to the Apple store. It’s so crowded it’s worse than the track. The last thing I want to do is play around on a device a million people have manhandled. Although it was fun to jailbreak the iphones when was up.
    And the genius bar is a joke. Its like “Look you retail leper. Just shut up and fix my computer” If you can’t then send it out, or send meningitis my way. But don’t waste an hour (or two) of my time.

      1. Not really. Since they are so smug and snarky with their attitude and it’s illegal for me to punch them in the face. Jailbreaking the iPhones in house was a sweet little revenge. And then to hear a noob ask at the end of the iPhone row “what’s Cydia?” to see those Apple people hurdle over the table to change it was somewhat gratifying.

          1. LOVE the product.
            Dont love the store.
            They replaced my MBA hinges. Period. It’s not magic. It’s a douche bag retail job in a mall. Its where a guy named Brent is wearing a $1.00 plastic name badge with a sticker that says he is a “genius” but who actually knows less than me. Period. Just because your 19 and went through Apples 2 week training class while your attending online college courses doesn’t mean you know your shit. If I wouldn’t void the warranty on my gear I’d go it alone. The douche bag STILL had to send it off to be repaired. Did it take him almost 2 hours to come to this assumption. Yes.
            Am I sour?
            Yes. I cant help it. Its the Bill Hicks in me.
            The world still spins people!
            (If you don’t know Bill Hicks do yourself the favor look into him)

        1. Any pathetic little jerk can destroy stuff. Addressing complaints, whether about Apple or about the world, by building something positive — now that takes some brains, determination and, usually, a lot of hard work.

    1. The average genius bar appointment is less than ten minutes. Most of the time, they take care of my problem while I’m standing there. So I’d say its bullsh*t that you are spending “an hour (or two)” at the genius bar. You must be thinking of the Geek Squad where they charge by the hour.

      1. Or I’m at an apple store in South FL where the next one is 150 miles away in Miami. Have you been to the Apple store in Palm Beach? Until you ve walked in my kicks you don’t know shit.

        1. iApple
          I still call bullsh*t. I just made a reservation for you at 6:15 at the Gardens Mall. Or if you’d prefer to drive 15 miles further, you can go to Wellington Green and get one at 6:45.


          1. What is your problem that you are going to the apple idiots bar so often? Kind of seems like you computer is always broke down you have made so many appointments? That looks bad for apple, fanboy. And just because you made one and it takes you 10-15 min all the time tells me one thing. Dude learn how to work a Mac.

            1. First off, I’m not a dude. Which also means I’m not a fan”boy”. And while you’ve been ranting on here with one hand, I’m out with friends reading your comments on my iPhone and having a really good laugh at your expense. Enjoy your evening with your girlfriend “Rosie”.

        2. Oh and BTW. I wouldn’t walk a few kicks in your shoes. Apparently they have dog sh*t on them or something, ’cause people seem to be repulsed by you. Just sayin’.

          1. Dog shit on my shoes? I must have been walking through your place. Repulsion? Well you werent to repulsed to use my moniker. Next time grow bigger Internet balls and use your own ID too.
            Just Sayin’

        1. Have you ever worked retail? I have, and customers like you were the worse thing about it. You walk into a store with a chip on your shoulder, treat the sales staff like sh*t, and get all outraged when you feel your ass hasn’t been sufficiently kissed. It’s no wonder you get bad service — every salesperson on Earth hates your f***ng guts.

          It’s amazing how much service improves if you treat salespeople like human beings.


          1. I’ve got to say, iApple, that I’m not a fan of bad customer service, and yet your attitude here makes me believe that you are the problem. Your words here make me think I would dislike you if I ever met you, and I generally like most people I meet.

            You aren’t doing your arguments any favor with all the nasty empty bluster.

            Oh, and I’ve had both reasonably-good and great customer service experiences at Apple Stores – and I live in Manhattan, so our stores are extremely busy. I don’t think I’ve ever had a terrible experience.

          1. iApple, if I worked for Apple Retail and you walked I to my store with that attitude, I’d take pleasure in smashing your fucking face in. I’d probably get fired, but you’d think of me every time you smiled into the mirror in your Mommys bathroom and noticed your two front teeth were missing.

  3. @ ploogman
    def right! Retail “experience” rated very poor by a large community. Store policies drastically differ from online purchases. Cannot even buy a computer in the store and get a free trackpad. You have to “buy” it separately for $69!

    Also, Iwork for sale in store for $79. Buy it at Mac App store for 60? Since when does packaging cost $20?!

    Apple needs to offer more training to their employees on the products. I went in the store and was asking basic questions to see if they would know the answer. For example: I would like an Imac with an i5 quad core processor. Do you have that? Apple employee, “no you have to special order that”. My response, “really, look at the specs on the modded ipad here. Apple employee, “oh yea I guess we do have that I thought that was an order only” Goes on to say, “so are you going to be using this computer for personal use or business? My thoughts- WTF why would I want to talk to some douche who doesn’t know anything about the products.

    Apple only has these hardware products(not counting backup or router): ipad, iphone, imac, macbook, mac-pro, atv, mac-air, ipods and mac mini? So they have less than 15 hardware products to keep track of…wtf?

    1. @mdibs79,

      Please, the Apple sales person is just trying to help. If you want an expert, pay $100 per hour and then complain. These guys do not make all that much money.

      And why were you trying to trick the poor guy anyway? Bored and nothing else to do?

      Just a thought here.

      1. you can’t even make a purchase without engaging in a conversation with the moron employees at the apple store since there is no register. There always is like a bunch of bright shirt wearing, lanyard sporting, alternative looking, smug apple employees boring you to death with some lame conversion when all you want to do is make the purchase and get out of the store.

        The products sell themselves. The stores are awful. As far as people with similar negative views of the retail experience- we are not trolls since most of us own numerous apple products and have all been in one of their million stores across the country. I actually would rather buy my apple products from BestBuy or Target than the local apple store in Manhattan…
        Apple please lay off half of retail staff(that are useless anyway for sale) and just add a register line in the store. That would save some money and make my stock go up!

    1. Trolls, morons, and poop.
      Are you having another dinner party?
      Because iAppreciate didn’t get his invite. He was busy making an appointment to fix his Mac…again!

    2. @Jubei

      That is your comment? Just because people want Apple to be better, they are considered morons and trolls? Kind of rude dude. We are all in this together wanting Apple to succeed even more. I just do not think the Apple store staff is trained properly and managed properly. I also do not think the stocking (iMacs without trackpads) makes any common sense whatsoever. That is all I am saying. Sorry if you were offended.

  4. I must be lucky. The two apple stores I frequent (Brandon Fl and Orlando Fl) are full of top notch associates. Never had a question or problem that didn’t get addressed…

    1. I’ll second that for Sydney, Oz: great personal service for a very busy store. (Though the young ‘genius’ lady didn’t know that a USB drive backup couldn’t be used to startup my older PPC machine. Lucky I wanted firewire anyway).

  5. I’ve visited Apple stores all over North America, Australia and Britain and I’ve NEVER yet been disappointed in the experience. Certainly never encountered any smugness or smirks whatsoever. The person in this post should take a look in the mirror if he/she is encountering this type of behaviour on a regular basis.
    I highly doubt it is Apple’s fault. Their success speaks volumes.

  6. Frankly I am extremely disappointed that MDN has not put a few historical iCal quotes at the bottom. I am sure I remember a few tech reporters claiming it would fail, fold and go away in a matter of months. Come on MDN…iCal quotes are the best part…

  7. Apple Stores are successful because they have desirable products to display and sell. How much simpler can it get? Everything else is just an enhancement of the customer experience, NOT a primary reason for success. Microsoft can copy Apple’s stores for appearance and services, but they are NOT going to have the products.

    The sales employees at Apple Stores generally do not seem that experienced (or well-trained) at being “sales persons,” because the products sell themselves. Most of the time, I don’t find them to be particularly knowledgable about the products (like someone who spends all day actively “promoting” the products to customers); I often know more than they do… They generally take a hands-off approach unless the customer enlists their help, which is perfectly fine for an Apple Store. But to me, they often look a bit bored and uninvolved.

    NOW, everything (including iPod shuffles and iPads) has a “smart sign” (mounted iPad running special software) next to it, to provide product-specific information that the sales person would normally provide.

    1. Totally agree althegeo. It is getting a little crowded in the stores, but that’s much better than the MS stores located in the same malls. Feels good to be a long term mac user. I was Apple when Apple wasn’t cool. Lovin’ it.

  8. I think he nailed it right here..

    Stop Trying to Make Money
    Most firms see themselves in business to make money. That’s “the bottom line”—the primary goal of management. By contrast, Apple’s goal is to delight its customers. Apple has grasped that making money is the result of the firm’s actions, not the goal. By delighting the customer, Apple ends up making more money than it would if it set out to make money. The goal of “delighting the customer” leads to radically different managerial behaviors from traditional retail.

  9. @ CHRIS

    I live in Europe so peddle your wares elsewhere. Apple’s stores are iconic and futuristic. That is not an opinion. The Apple store in NY, for example, is a tourist destination.

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