“the Apple Store is the undisputed king, a retail
phenomenon renowned for impeccable design, deft
service and spectacular revenues.”
Over the last 10-years, Apple has risen to retail dominance and has
built a truly unique retail empire through the vertical integration of the
product, retail, and customer experiences within the Apple Store.
“Apple ‘truly’ generates a competitive advantage
through the delivery of the product, retail and customer
experiences via a ‘dialed’ channel controlled by Apple.”
Apple has about
Apple Stores get
more than 1
The Nanjing East store in
Shanghai is Apple’s
busiest. It gets 25,000
visitors per day. You can’t
even fit that many people
in Madison Square
The Genius Bar serves
95,000 customers per
day worldwide. That’s
enough to fill up
The average revenue
per Apple Store
location in 2014 was
There were 437
Apple Stores at the
end of 2014. 259 of
them were in the
US. The rest were
Apple's revenue from company-owned retail stores
(in billion U.S. dollars)
Steve Jobs believed the Apple retail program needed to
fundamentally change the relationship to the customer,
and provide more control over the presentation of Apple
products and the Apple brand message.
Why Apple Owned Stores?
Do Things Right From The Beginning
Ron Johnson, Senior Vice President of Retail
Operations at Apple from 2000 through 2011
Focuses on “How
do we reinvent the
store to enrich our
not on “How many
products we need
The First Two Apple Stores Opened on May 19, 2001
Tysons Corner Center
Fairfax County, Virginia
A pre-launch tour of one of the original Apple Stores back in 2001 (Tysons Corner, VA).
Steve Jobs Introduced the Apple Store (2001)
Many stores are located inside shopping malls, but
Apple has built several stand-alone "flagship" stores
in high-profile locations….. and has received
numerous architectural awards for its store designs.
These stores enable Apple to fundamentally transform the
purchasing conversation with consumers into a valuation
of total product experience that is empowered by the
unique retail atmosphere of the Apple Store.
To Learn. To Experience. To Play. To Enjoy. To Shop.
& To Remember.
On May 22, 2011, Apple
replaced their acrylic displays
that had information about the
product with interactive iPad
2 displays, called Smart Signs,
which add more information
about the product like
specifications, comparisons and
extended warranties. This
transition from paper to touch
displays was dubbed "Apple
Apple Store Continues to Evolve
Authorized Apple resellers, including major big
box retailers like Best Buy and Staples, have a
dedicated ”store-within-a-store” with wood
tables and a backlit Apple Logo.
Extend Customer Reach & Engagement
2. Create a store that’s more than a store to people.
People come to the Apple Store for the experience — and they’re willing
to pay a premium for that.
The Secrets of Apple’s Retail Success
1. Think different and makes complex things simple.
Apple started by learning why other retailers had failed, then hired the
retail experts to do the job.
3. Focus on experience, not products.
Apple has been subliminally inviting customers to experience
the Apple lifestyle and become part of the Apple community.
Apple focuses on what people do with their products and
not what their product does.
Use any other MP3 player and you’ll
hear good music. Use an iPod and
you’ll feel good. You’ll fit in.
The typical person that Apple employs in their stores feels so
connected to the corporate mission that they are generally happier,
feel more empowered, and truly believe in what Apple is doing.
4. Let your customers feel connected.
The Secrets of Apple’s Retail Success (continued)
5. Staff has been trained not to sell but
rather focus on building relationships.
Customer delight is the new formula for success.
6. Empower your customers.
Instead of trying to tightly control the buying
experience, Apple gladly relinquishes control to
its customers by letting them touch everything,
try anything, and stay as long as they like.
7. Enrich your customer’s lives.
Apple offers free classrooms, training sessions and
weekly seminars from guest speakers and store
employees on topics addressing how people can
improve their lives through technology
Apple’s service strategy is embodied by
the acronym APPLE, meaning
Approach. Probe. Present. Listen. End.
“Approach customers with a
personalized, warm welcome. Probe
politely to understand all the customer’s
needs. Present a solution for the
customer to take home today. Listen for
and resolve any issues or concerns.
End with a fond farewell and an
invitation to return.”8. Apple goes one step further.
Apple understands that the customer adventure starts long
before and continues well after that transaction so it goes
well beyond the ordinary to provide a world class,
delightful experience that leaves nothing to chance.
Empower Your Employees to Make Your Customers Happy
Apple employees are encouraged to do more than necessary to
surprise and delight customers. One manager in Utah reopened a
store so a 10 year-old girl could buy an iPod with a jar of coins she
had saved for a year - then asked the other employees to cheer as
True Story 1:
When a new product is launched, managers go out of their way to
keep those waiting for days in front of the Apple Store as
comfortable as possible, often passing out bottled water or providing
access to the store’s bathrooms.
True Story 2:
The soul of the Apple Store is in its people. They are
hired, trained, motivated and taught to create magical and
memorable moments for their customers.
The three pillars of enchantment are likability,
trustworthiness, and quality. Apple’s engineers
take care of qualityquality, and the Apple Store
experience personifies likabilitylikability and
How to Create the Apple Store
Experience for Your Own Brand
Apple has created something very different from the cold, "hands-
off" nature of traditional high-end stores, while avoiding the clutterof
a warehouse store like Best Buy. In sociological terms, Apple has
very deliberately changed the "script" of electronics shopping.
What do we mean by "scripts"? Sociologists have spent years
studying experiences and have noticed that there are shared rules
that govern how we act. These scripts are unwritten and
unspoken, yet greatly influence our day-to-day behaviors and
In the mundane routines of our lives,
experiences that stand out are often those
that change the existing scripts. Mini
Cooper, for example, replaced the "cheap
small car" script with one that leverages
the fun aspects of driving a rally car.
7 Steps For Creating Disruptive New Retail Experiences
To truly design a great experience that’s right for your company,
we need to look beyond the field of design to sociology,
economics, organizational behavior, and even
The following seven principles will help you be strategic about the
experiences you design and choose the right script for your
7 Steps For Creating Disruptive New Retail Experiences
1. EXPERIENCE DESIGN IS NOT ABOUT LUXURY.
As soon as the conversation
turns to design and customer-
centered activities, the knee-
jerk reaction is to cast the
product as a "premium" idea.
The truth is that customer
experience can be central to even
"value-based" businesses. Consider
Southwest Airlines. At its best, the
combination of heart, humor, and
efficiency makes for a distinctly
Southwest script for air travel that’s
different from the norm.
2. START WITH EMPATHY.
Understanding and challenging social scripts requires stepping into
your customers’ shoes. Harley-Davidson has a strong community of
riders as brand ambassadors precisely because its employees are the kinds
of people who equate biking with life and freedom, and regularly hit the
3. DO YOUR OWN THING.
Find authentic sources of
connection with your customers
and stick to them. People will value
originality as long as you continue to
serve their needs. Target was a
discount retailer trying to outdo
Walmart on price before it realized it
could create a destination for the
design-minded community, providing
a lot more value.
4. UTILIZE ALL ELEMENTS OF THEATER.
Create an immersive world with
consistent rules. To reinforce the
script, think of the whole
experience as a "play," including
the cast, costumes, set, and
props. Starbucks employs all of these
elements in their coffee-shop
experience— everything from the
interior design to the names of the
drinks are considered in delivering the
experience Howard Schultz
envisioned when popularizing the
"coffee-shop" script in the U.S.
5. USE DIFFERENT INCENTIVES TO CREATE
Align your people, including
their incentives and
motivations, with the
desired experience. Saturn
changed the car-buying script in
the 1980s by employing salaried
salespeople—and eliminating a
stereotype of the sleazy car
salesman who’s after
6. THE DEVIL IS IN THE TRADE-OFFS.
The experience you offer should
have a clear point of view. What you
leave out often says more than what you
leave in. Chipotle refuses to use freezers,
in the fast food industry no less. And
Whole Foods won’t accept over-
processed foods in its aisles. Managing
trade-offs tightly is essential to creating
a script with a character that inspires
people and separates a brand from the
7. EVOLVE TO STAY RELEVANT.
Never stop prototyping and testing changes to make the
experience better and to change in step with people’s needs.
McDonald’s has proved surprisingly resilient through market ups and
downs. It constantly experiments with its experience at its Innovation
Center in Illinois, making sure new elements—like its wildly successful
coffee offerings—support and augment its business goals.
Designing great experiences
is a blind spot for many
corporate leaders. It’s an
area of expertise that needs
just as much attention, rigor,
and patience as the other
aspects of business
Now, start working
on your unique retail