Who’s the best retailer in the US? Not Target or Wal-Mart. Not Best Buy or CompUSA. It’s Apple. Why?
What makes Apple such a great retailer? Where do you buy the latest Apple gadgets and software? Online? Catalog? Apple Store?
I have the pleasure of living not far from Apple’s glass cube store on 5th Avenue and Central Park in New York. If ever there was a retail structure that bordered on religious icon, Apple has it in the New York store’s design. The only thing missing outside would be Mac and iPod users in a reverent bow before entering.
Apparently the Apple retail experience can be placed in a box and shipped to other locations around the world. Fortune Magazine calls Apple the “best retailer.”
That’s a heady description, but the Mac aura can obviously be transferred to music devices, ala the omni present music machine known as the iPod, why not transfer it to a store? Apple did, despite strong criticism and outright predictions of failure.
Today, Apple’s stores rake in about $1-billion a quarter, remain very profitable, and have become the perfect gathering place for people to touch and feel the “aura” that Apple designs into every experience.
There is something I don’t like about the 5th Avenue Apple Store. I feel bad if I leave the store without purchasing something. Something. Anything. The shopping experience is so pleasant that there’s this obligatory response mechanism that sets in.
I want to balance the scales by buying something. Is that a good retail experience, or what?
Apple says that about 85-percent of all those living in the US are within a one hour drive of an Apple Store.
That’s not much travel effort to get to touch and feel in ways that CompUSA and Best Buy will never understand.
Back in 2001, BusinessWeek carried printed this great line from retail consultant David Goldsein: “Sorry Steve, Here’s Why Apple Stores Won’t Work.” Don’t you love such misguided missives? Would you hire Goldstein to help consult on your store?
Today, Apple’s retail stores are the darling of the shopping industry. They’re growing rapidly, they turn in great revenue numbers per square foot, they’re profitable, and they’re the place where millions of people got their first iPod experience.
That begs this question for Mac users. Where do you buy your Apple gadgets, software, and computers? I’ll admit to buying all things Apple in all places that sell Apple.
For example, I’ll buy newly introduced products direct from the Apple Store online. If I need something in a hurry and don’t want to wait a day or two, I’ll head to the nearest Apple Store, even if I’m on the road.
That doesn’t stop me from visiting other Apple retail locations not owned by Apple, though, admittedly, the experience usually is less than what Apple provides.
In short, I buy all over the place, but I love 5th Avenue shopping below the glass cube. Speaking of cubes, what is it that Steve Jobs has with cubes? The original NeXT computer was a cube, Apple’s cube was highly regarded but sold poorly. Now there’s a glassy cube store (better a night than during the day).
Where do you make most of your Apple product purchases? Does having a Genius Bar in the Apple Store make a difference where you buy? Assuming you’ve visited an Apple Store, what’s your take? Is it a good retail experience?
Many Apple Stores had long lines at the checkout counters. Apple responded and gave store associates wireless hand-held checkout devices to complete the purchase without standing in line.
How does your view of the Apple Store compare to others that sell Apple products? Are you purchasing more products online these days, or less? What’s your worst Apple product shopping experience?