Remember the neighborhood computer store that sold Apple’s computers? They’re going the way of the dinosaurs.
These days, Apple wants sales at any cost, even if it means the destruction of Apple retailers. There’s no loyalty at Apple.
That’s the way it is. Is that the way it should be? Does that attitude go beyond Apple retailers to customer loyalty?
The headline in Pacific Business News is “Apple takes a bite out of supporting business.” The story is typical and familiar. An independent retail store that specialized in selling and supporting Apple products for many years gets crushed by Apple’s own retail stores.
The store in question is Mac Made Easy, which first opened in Honolulu 15 years ago. Since Apple’s own stores have invaded the city, Mac Made Easy’s sales have fallen dramatically and forced the store to move (again) to a less competitive environment.
Where’s Apple’s loyalty to their retail base; those independent retailers who’ve been loyally selling Apple’s products for years? There is none. Or, at least, not much, especially where Apple’s survival and prosperity is concerned.
Mac Made Easy’s product sales have been cut in half by the competition from Apple’s own retail stores, forcing the independent store to cut staff. As the owner said, “Everyone’s going after the same customers. There’s no loyalty within Apple.”
That’s the way it is. In American business, that’s pretty much the way it’s always been. Unfortunately, that’s probably the way it should be.
Why? Business is a survival of the fittest. Eat or be eaten. What’s more important to a business? Survival or loyalty?
By opening their own retail stores, Apple raised the bar of the buying experience—for Macs, then iPods, service and support, and soon the iPhone.
Apple Stores provide a new way to experience Apple products and have contributed to the company’s rebirth, resurgence, and current prosperity. Those independent retail stores that cannot compete with that environment will become dinosaurs—the corner computer store of the past.
Apple’s corporate loyalty, to the independent retail stores which have sold Apple products for years, obviously is a relative thing. It’s nothing personal. A business goes where the money is. For Apple, and probably any other business, if they can do a better job than their vendors, they will.
After all, it’s a way to make more money, and that, in the end, is what is all about, right? Regarding Apple, we’d like to think different, of course, but customer loyalty for products may face similar pressures.
How many Mac users left the platform in the dark years of the 1990s, and pre-OS X? Many. So much for loyalty from the customer base, huh?
I was a Mac Made Easy customer before they moved from Honolulu to less competitive territory on the other side of the island. Compared to Apple’s retail store experience, Mac Made Easy carried less product inventory in a cramped and arguably messy environment, served by sales personnel better suited to positions in a complaint department at an oil refinery.
The Apple Store experience, as far as it goes, is better and more attractive to a larger number of customers. But loyalty is a street of many directions. If Apple does not provide what their customers want and need, customers will display a similar lack of loyalty and leave for greener pastures, better products.
To ensure success and prosperity, and avoid the dinosaur syndrome, both Apple and retailers (and product manufacturers) must provide attractive products and services at competitive prices. Look at Apple now. That’s what they do.
Look at those retailers and manufacturers that were but are no more, or, are struggling (Sony, I’m looking at you…). That’s not what they do (as well).
Loyalty? It goes with the flow.