Four key ways the Apple Store has revolutionized retail

“There’s no doubting that Apple’s iOS devices and Macs are popular, especially when you see the lines stretching outside of the company’s retail stores during each product release. However, it’s sometimes hard to see what the company has revolutionized that isn’t a shiny touchscreen device,” Kaled Ali reports for AppleTell. “That is the Apple Retail Store, which is used to educate customers about Apple products, provide technical assistance, and, in many cases, serve as an unlocked Wi-Fi network for passers-by”

“Apple’s retail stores have helped to revolutionize retail as we know it, crafting customer service and store design into an art,” Ali reports. “Let’s look at what Apple has included in their store that has revolutionized retail experiences, both in America and internationally.”

Four key ways the Apple Store has revolutionized retail:
• Genius Bar
• Product Display Tables
• All-Glass Storefront Design
• Employee Organization

Read more in the full article here.

57 Comments

  1. One more important key for Apple to beat Samsung is targeting the low-end customers domestic plus abroad as well. Even Hollywood movies if they wanted to make profits margin they must reach out to foreign s markets.

    1. I don’t think Apple means to beat Samsung. They mean to maximize profits, and they are certainly doing that. With profits they can revolutionize the next industry. Apple is happy to cannibalize it’s own product lines, and as long as what they move on to is more profitable than what they leave behind, there’s no problem with that strategy. So if Samsung were to wipe out Apple’s iPhone business, would Apple really care? Only if they hadn’t already moved on to the next great thing.

    1. Ah yes, such a simple concept to put products out so customers can interact with them, but isn’t amazing how few retailers understand this.

      What do you see when buying clothes? Circular racks where just one shoulder of a shirt is visible. Why not at least have your sales people wear what you’re trying to sell?

      What do you see when you go to buy soup at the grocery store? There is a wall of soup cans. Why not serve the soup at an in-store deli? What? It isn’t good enough to be served at a deli? What does that tell you about the product?

      Can we taste strawberries before we buy them to see if they’re as sweet as they look? Can I try out a hammer or drill before bringing it home?

      And even when you’re allowed to use a product at the store, is the environment conducive to demonstrate its capabilities? Best Buy anyone? Toys-R-Us? Office Depot? Sears?

      Such a simple concept…

      1. Who is paying for the product being displayed? If you have to sell 10 products just to break even on the display product the model doesn’t always work. That’s working with a 10% profit margin. Often the electronics industry is working with even lower than 10% margins, especially if they are selling Apple products.

        How much does that display table cost? How much square footage is it taking up? How many other products could have taken up that display space? How many demo products get broken/stolen?….

        Such a simple concept… /s

    2. It’s how you put them on the table to be displayed. Check out a flyer from Trader Joe’s. They’re just selling stuff but it’s the way it’s presented. Marketing/advertising is the game changer. You can have a great product but if you don’t know how to present it, it will fail. The Apple Store does it so well. I mean it helps to have great products once the customer is in the store but presentation matters. And part of that presentation is the unbelievable service you receive in an Apple store. It’s why their stores are such a great success. I would just like to see them ramp up their advertising more. I think the new television commercial for the iPhone is very good. And they can and should do more. But I guess new-product will help that a lot. I sure would like to see a television spot for a larger iPhone. But I guess I’ll have to wait until next year for that? At least we should have commercials for the smaller iPhone alongside the iPhone five this fall.

    1. It’s scary how beautifully it works. Apple actually was a bit tentative about this for awhile. I suspect getting the software they required was part of the wait. But then the tires hit the road and… It Just Works.

  2. Apple has revolutionized a lot more: cash registers (formerly IBM’s bread and butter), apps for phones, maps, calculators, cameras, games, music, and on and on . . .

  3. Check out those Google stores. They are total rip offs of Apple’s stores. Oh and look up Androidland in Austrailia. It has an ugly shade of green, and has plastic, buggy devices. Don’t get me started on Sammy’s stores…

    1. Ripping off Apple is de rigor for follow-the-leader companies that don’t know how to innovate on their own.

      Microsoft Stores
      Google Stores
      Samsung Stores

      Apple sets the trend. The industry follows.

      We need more companies that actually lead. Apple requires competition. Apparently that isn’t going to be Sony any longer, and bye-bye Kodak…

      1. “de rigor”. Seriously? Your French used to be better. Or did you intend a concealed joke, as if Apple copiers were destined to fail and therefore subject to rigor mortis?

        1. I am a TERRIBLE speller. My secret ghost writer is Spell Catcher. Plus, I guess, I am sort of responsible for my spelling as well. Sitting next to me are my beloved massive, complete Oxford British English dictionary and complete Oxford British English thesaurus. Plus I have key commands to bring up OmniDictionary and Apple’s provided version of the Oxford dictionary. So, being tired and lazy at the time (excuses, excuses!) I stupidly spelled it ‘rigor’.

          Spelling Police! Please read: “de rigueur”. Sorry. 🙁

            1. The Oxford Universal Dictionary. Bought it used for $10 used. 1955 third edition with revised addenda, printed in the USA. It’s a great door stop and terrific for drying leaves. 😉 I’m writing some stories that are slightly steampunk related. Therefore, I’m going heavy on the 19th century verbiage.

            2. Derek! The OUD, a low-rent ripoff of the OED?! You’re priceless. I’m sorry, I must go off somewhere to laugh raucously. — No offence, trading stamps have become almost as collectible as genuine postage stamps, these days.

              “Oxford” in the title of a dictionary is as misleading as “Webster”, or in the case of telephone directories, as “Yellow Pages” or “Let your fingers do the walking” — all unregistered trademarks exploited by every Tom, Dick, and Harriet.

              At least you aren’t cursed by relying on a copy of Funk and Wagnalls. 🙂

  4. Yep, had an excellent iMovie lesson in Bath, UK, this week.

    Good for Apple retail – which is more than I can say for Apple software people, who have made such an utter mess of desktop iTunes 11.

    Previous version was a model of ease and elegance – this one needs to be shot at dawn.

    1. Please elaborate with details and examples. This sounds like either whiny bitch moaning from someone who can’t find the next rung on their professional ladder (sadly, a common problem thanks to the 2007 worldwide economic depression, so don’t feel lonely), or total troll spew. But I’m open to actual factual information, please. (I didn’t vote you down btw).

      1. Feedback? Worked Apple retail for 5 years, top sales in region in every category, monetary, attachment rates, customer satisfaction. Was at top of pay scale. Without other source of income would not have been able to afford Apple products. It is just a fact. One cannot make a career in Apple retail. The promote and find managers from places like the Gap – very seldom promote from within – and pay very little. Indeed the pay went up when the NYTimes did an expose on this very issue. I’m not bitter. I’m not a troll. Good grief people. Just stating the obvious. If you want a middle class, you have to pay middle class wages. It was Henry Ford that said he had to pay enough to his workers so they could buy his cars. Simple. The pay what other retail pays, though Lululemon pays more. For yoga clothes. How much expertise does that take?

        I have an Apple TV, 15″ retina, iphone and iPad. Does that sound like a troll? Just saying this would not be in my possession without outside income. The kids you see in the Apple store can barely pay their rent.

        1. Yes I agree that Apples greed and contempt for its own employees and promoters shows its real colors here. The buy price for employees and demo stock is not even close to 10% above Apple cost … Shame, shame, shame. Will always love the product but the corporation like many others is an evil basket case.

          1. Yes, I appreciate that sentiment, every time I walk into a store to buy something—electronics, asparagus, airline tickets, a grand piano. How obsequious are the sales staff, their envy of my wealth apparent, their enslavement by the corporation absolute, their hopelessness palpable. So abject are these unfortunates that I am shamed even to make a purchase, and would rather make a charitable donation, surreptitiously slipping banknotes into their hand, then depart, my shopping bag empty, with a smile and a tear for the exploited. This probably explains why most of my actual purchases are made online, so as not to conjure the condemnation of an entire society of judgmental commenters; better to be in denial about the suffering of unseen Amazon warehouse workers than to face actual victims of callous treatment by soulless and hypocritical corporate employers. Oh, the humanity!

        2. no, it’s not obvious. You’re exaggerating. My two friends have no complaints (now that Browett has been removed) and they do make a living at the local Apple Store. So…

          You aren’t that grumbler guy in SF who tried to unionize the Apple Store, are you?

          1. I m not exaggerating. Your friends apparently bunk up or do not live on the coasts. Not that guy in SanFran, But you got a problem with Unions. Without the Union Movement we’d all be working 6 and 7 hour days. The Unions are what helped create an American Middle Class. I am just stating the obvious. That a retail Apple worker on the floor is selling over 2 million dollars a year in sophisticated mercy and receiving a very small wage. One cannot have a family, buy a car, or rent a decent place on these wages. American Corporations will eventually have to realize that if they continue to shrink the middle class they will have no one to buy their goods. The wealth disparity in the US today is worse than it was during the robber baron era. Just saying.

            Glad that your friends are satisfied with such low wages. Just you wait they will move on.

            1. John, I have been saying the same thing for years. The jobs that used to provide upward mobility into the middle class have largely disappeared. My father, who quit school after 10th grade (but later got his G.E.D.) retired from the Air Force after 20 years as a staff sergeant. His service included Korea and Vietnam. He received a very small pension from his service, but was able to support a family in a lower middle class manner by working at an industrial job. I learned to fix and maintain cars and the house – we did pretty much everything ourselves so that there would occasionally be a little extra money for a “luxury” or two. But I had good parents and it was a solid way to start a life. Every one of my siblings had the opportunity to attend college, and all but one graduated.

              But industrial jobs are scarce nowadays. There are a lot of entry-level, low-paying jobs in retail, hotels and restaurants, and clerical services. But most of those do not pay a decent wage (especially for a family) unless you reach at least lower level management. Trade jobs are perhaps the last bastion of middle class opportunities for the non-college bound – carpentry, plumbing, electrical, welding, etc. Unfortunately, our society now frowns on vocational training as an alternative for those who are not college bound (either through aptitude or interest).

              This transition began in the 1960s and accelerated in the 1970s and 1980s. There is a small, but growing, caste of the wealthy and a large and growing group of low-paid workers with reduced opportunities for upward mobility. I don’t have anything against the wealthy. I would like to be in that group. But it is unwise for the wealthy to accumulate assets at the expense of the lower socioeconomic classes. When the wealth disparity becomes too large, unrest will follow. The veneer of civilization is very thin, and unrest can easily grow into riots, rebellion, and anarchy. At that point, money becomes fairly worthless.

  5. It helps a retail store most to have something to sell that people want to buy. Some people try to do that with exclusives, but over time that fails.

    Premium service can keep people coming back. But if the crowds cannot be managed without ropes eventually the experience will suffer without a larger space or a better path through a smaller one.

    Eliminating the register can also can speed the crowd in and out, but finding an employee not busy for the few remaining things can be a problem. Especially if you are one of those folks accustomed to looking for a place to make the transaction and can’t find it.

    But mostly it helps to have something people want to buy.

  6. “genius” bar = 1984 Byte Shop NorthWest “genius” window (a place where customers could walk up and get quick answers and assistance

    Product display tables = Byte Shope NorthWest 1984 store design with solution stations (a retailer with multiple product lines but each station concerned a solution (business, family, etc)

    All glass store front = 1984 Byte Shop NorthWest store on 5th and Lenora which had 16′ glass windows across the front and most of the way down the side of this corner retail store

    Employee organization … well trained employees will always be a benefit. = Byte Shop NorthWest 1984

    There is no magic with what Apple has done.

        1. The point is, if they had the perfect store to make big bucks, why didn’t they open other branches instead of taking the money and sailing off to Tahiti?

          Seems to me that management screwed up royally by selling out. They couldn’t be near as astute as you say they were.

            1. It’s cliché to claim being ‘first’ at something, and if you notice, Apple never really speaks up about being the first to do something. Their fame comes from their extremely successful implementations of good ideas. They didn’t make the first MP3 player, they made the first successful MP3 player. They didn’t make the first smartphone, they made the first smartphone that everyone wanted to use. I can go on, but yes, Apple’s innovations are not unique, original ideas, but instead, successful implementations of already good ideas, which is hip and worthy of immense respect.

  7. The “magic” in Apple retail, at least outside America is that all their real profit is siphoned off to nil tax havens, thereby paying nil tax in the countries where they sell their goods. As far as the Genius Bar is concerned, it’s a laughable misuse of the word Genius. Einstein, Tesla. Leonard da Vinci .. yes. Some bod who can tell you to restore your system? You have got to be kidding.

    1. This would be true of ANY multi-national company with decent tax attorney. There is nothing particularly magicor unique there.

      The only “magic” if that word should be used at all is that Apple makes things people want at a margin that is profitable. The rest is just having a venue to show the expensive product in operation to the maximum amount of people.

    2. braindrainer, I think we’d appreciate it if you knew the details of what you were talking about. Please go watch THE ENTIRE set of hearings from last week where Tim Cook and his CFO team explained exactly what Apple does and why they do it and what they would like to change in the USA. It made beautiful, logical sense. Apple started this system in 1980. You’d be silly as a CEO not to do the same. Foreign made profits are NOT owed to any company’s home nation, unless you’re thinking from the point of view of a rabid, frothing, dire socialist, like Senator Carl Levin. Please watch the hearings and notice, then speak.

      1. Not in Australia.

        Total Apple turnover in Australia $6 BILLION AUD PA made up of ..
        Apple Australia $1 BILLION AUD
        Total tax paid $28 MILLION

        Apple stores online and retail (100% American owned) $5 BILLION AUD
        Total tax paid NIL

        Total tax paid all up $28 MILLION AUD 0.466%

            1. Correction: Isn’t that DOWN UNDER to Australia? 😉

              Lots of chatty people here lately.

              For those interested, by way of offering credentials, I’ve been writing two Mac specific blogs on Mac technology since 2007. You can access both of them by clicking on my avatar then clicking the links to the blogs provided there. I highly recommend my Mac-Security blog as it provides kewl stuff not only from me, but a bunch of links to other people working closely with Mac security across the net and the world. I get an average of 150 readers a day. Recently I peaked at 503 readers. My ego exploded that day and I am still picking up the pieces. 😉

  8. There is no magic.
    The comments are good, but first you must have a very good product to sell. Apple has that.
    If you have a bad product, advertising and promotion exposes your bad product to many more people more quickly and you are out of business more quickly.
    Then: profit. Without profit, they put a padlock on your doors and you are gone, no way to explain your way out of that one. It’s amazing how many people subscribe to the theory that “we lose money on every sale, but we make up for it in volume, Or “good intentions”

    Apple has good product and is profitable. That accounts for 90% of reason they are successful. The absolutely critical 90%.

    1. Indeed and tax is always the enemy of busuness especially when collected by wasteful govt when the plan is to redistribute wealth. Anyone scornful at apple for legally taking advantage of legal tax loopholes is a socialist at very least and should move to France. But they won’t because they are takers. Not makers like Apple. They’ve green with envy. Apple stores dosplay and create a demand for great products and create ease to obtain them. Nicely done.

      1. Apple and other large corporations have more than $21 TRILLION USD lodged in tax havens. Due to transfer pricing and bogus royalty arrangements this iis almost totally free of tax anywhere. The US and Europe economies are in the shitter. While a proportion of Government spending is always wasteful, taxes are used for provision of public goods. US and Europe, unsustainable $MULTI TRILLION debts. Fill in the dots.

    2. Very good point, first you get your house in order, then you tell everyone about it.

      It’s the after sales service that does it for me.

      Trouble is, new Apple customers don’t believe me when I tell them

      1. (Pressed the publish button too soon)!

        People just don’t believe me when I tell them about the after sales service.

        They are used to the same standard, sub-standard service they get elsewhere.

        A friend dropped his 2 month old iPad and cracked the screen. He paid for 3rd party repair!

        He assumed the apple store wouldn’t be interested.

        They’d have just have swapped it out for a new one I told him, he doesn’t believe me.

        The one thing that apple ought to be lauded for is the excellent service they give after you’ve bought the hardware.

        1. If he didn’t purchase AppleCare plus, don’t be so sure they would automatically give him a new one. This is one of the reasons AppleCare plus was introduced.

          That being said I would have tried to get a free replacement from Apple before paying someone else to replace the glass.

          BTW where did the glass come from?

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