The Retail Design Philosophy of Apple
Purely on a sales per square meter basis (a measure I find pretty damn compelling) Apple is indisputably the greatest retailer in the world. In a branding article we wrote earlier this year for The Melbourne Review titled; ‘Walking with Retail Dinosaurs’, we pointed out that Apple stores deliver the highest sales per square meter of any retailer – figures from the US show Apple stores deliver sales of US$65,000 per m2, which is 25% higher than the next best performing retailer; Lululemon Athletica. A quick glance at the Apple retail offer turns-up a number ‘Golden Rules of Retail’ that the technology brand does not do.
• They do not cram every square centimeter of floor and wall space with product.
• They do not rely on monthly sales and door buster discounts to attract customers.
• They don’t skimp on staff or hire school kids with little idea of the product.
• They do not utilize a ‘Loss Leader’ strategy.
• They don’t offer product that is functionally unique to their competitors.
• They don’t cut corner on store design and fit-out costs.
So what is it that Apple does, what is their philosophy that drives this incredible return on their retail investment?
The clip after the jump is an internal video that has made it to the outside world.
It appears to be a year-or-so out of date, but still provides a rarely seen glimpse of the mind-set that has so successfully built the retail dimension of this brand.
Apple has long had absolute clarity around their brand which layers intuitive technology with beautiful design aesthetic and soul. Over time Apple has built a huge community of passionate loyalists, the envy of brands across the spectrum. Apple retail stores provide a place beyond the functional where these fans go to connect with the brand. Customers continue to flock to Apple stores where they’re willing to pay a premium for the Apple experience, even when the same products are available in the US at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target and on Amazon at lower prices.
Beyond their brand clarity, service bar concept, and product range playground, the defining dimension of Apple stores is their retail staff. Staff are carefully trained to be experts in the forgotten art of ‘making customers happy’. Apple retail staff don’t earn sales commissions, it makes no difference to them whether they sell a customer the latest Mac Book, or get their old one running smoothly again. The role of Apple’s store staff is to deepen customer relationships and build loyalty by discovering what they need and helping them get there – no cross-selling, no up-selling.
Former Senior VP for retail at Apple, Ron Johnson believes retailers shouldn’t be asking, “How do we create a store that’s going to do $15 million a year?” but rather “How do we reinvent the store to enrich our customers’ lives?”