Hi folks. Hard at work updating my new eBook about The Secrets of Apple’s Retail Success as a follow up to my existing eBook: MarketingApple, The 5 Secrets of the World's Best Marketing Machine. Expect to be able to download that here soon. In the meantime, here is much of the first chapter. Enjoy!
The Secrets of Apple’s Retail Success
by Steve Chazin
By any measure, Apple is unquestionably one of the world’s most successful retailers.
Even though Apple never sold directly to consumers before they opened that first store over ten years ago in a mall in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, Apple boasts some incredible bragging rights for its retail channel. Apple operates nearly 400 retail stores which employs over 42,000 people and plays host to more than a million visitors every day. Apple’s retail operations generated nearly $19 billion in 2012. Amazingly, Apple’s stores average over $6,000 per square foot which is more than twice the former gold-standard Tiffany & Company. It is estimated that Apple’s Fifth Avenue store generates over $35,000 per square foot making it the highest grossing retailer in New York - ever.
Apple Stores are now the highest performing stores in retail history.
It wasn’t always this way. Apple experienced massive failures in the 1990s when selling its products through retailers such as Sears and CompUSA. Its computers were muscled out of view and its brand so weakened that many retailers refused to properly market or stock Apple’s computers.
Even though Apple entered the retail business largely as a defensive move to gain more control of the customer experience, the climate then was anything but welcoming. Gateway was operating direct-to-consumer retail stores and failing fast. Apple had to learn how to do things differently.
Less than two years after Apple opened its retail stores, Gateway shut down all of its shops and laid off more than 2,500 workers. Three years later CompUSA shuttered its 23 year-old chain of stores. So while there was little expectation and no guarantee that Apple might succeed selling its own computers in this miserable retail climate, amazingly, somehow it thrived.
But how? How did a company with no experience in retail become the fastest in U.S. history to reach annual sales of $1 billion during the worst financial crisis in modern times? How did a company with only four products become the most profitable retailer in history while creating an experience that is now the standard by which all others are measured? Why did a company that was losing money decide to enter the retail market against the recommendations of every expert and “where the only other retail strategy was going out of business?” How did Apple entice millions of people to visit their stores and pay full price when all their products are readily available at other retailers and even tax-free online at Amazon.com? Clearly the answer to these questions is that Apple had to think different about retail and make their stores more than just a place people go to buy things. They had to devise a way to enrich the lives of the people who shop at the Apple Stores and do more than simply deliver a transactional experience.
In short, they had to reinvent retail.
Keep coming back for more.