Apple's Ron Johnson on the Retail Store Experience

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Mac displays at Apple's Covent Garden retail store in London
RetailWeek reports (subscription required, via 9 to 5 Mac) on Apple's retail store experience in the wake of the opening of its massive Covent Garden store in London. The report covers a number of details about Apple's retail store history and the Covent Garden store specifically, but also offers some interesting quotes from Apple's Senior Vice President for Retail Ron Johnson about the company's philosophy.

Johnson claims that the company embraced the retail store initiative as an opportunity to show off the company's sleek product designs and innovative technology. But even with the company now operating 300 retail stores, Johnson notes that most people still have never touched an iPad.Explaining the stores' appeal he says: "10 years ago, we decided that, as a company that wanted to win in innovation, we wanted customers to experience the product at first hand."That focus led Apple to its retail store concept, where stores function less like traditional shops and more like showrooms where people can play with Apple products as a destination in its own right, with sales taking something of a back seat in the store experience.That meant the creation of a "gold standard" for Apple stores. While many retailers view stores by measures such as square footage and sales, Apple takes a different approach. "Our primary objective is to create a place that people will love," says Johnson. Covent Garden is the most significant iteration yet of that attitude. "We've not only created a store, we've created a place for people to be," he says.With the fluid staffing and layout of Apple's retail stores, along with new technologies that allow staff members to execute sales from anywhere on the floor, the retail store becomes more about customers coming in to try out products, learning from sales staff, and then ultimately transitioning to sales in many cases.Johnson says high-pressure sales techniques are alien to Apple's philosophy - and, in any case, the enthusiasm for Apple's goods from both customers and staff means there is no need for the hard sell. He says staff are taught "to look in the heart, not the pocket book" when dealing with customers. Staff, he says, are there "to help you buy".Johnson noted last November that Apple was looking to employ a shift in its retail store strategy, looking to open larger stores to handle the increased traffic as the company's popularity has continued to surge while also placing more emphasis on "significant stores" offering iconic presences like the recently-opened Covent Garden and Shanghai stores.

Article Link: Apple's Ron Johnson on the Retail Store Experience
 

hlfway2anywhere

macrumors 65816
Jul 15, 2006
1,281
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I used to work for an Apple Store, and I can tell you, this is very true. We were never encouraged to sell sell sell. We were taught to help customers find solutions, even if that solution was not to buy a Mac.
 

adm58

macrumors regular
Aug 20, 2007
122
17
I used to work for an Apple Store, and I can tell you, this is very true. We were never encouraged to sell sell sell. We were taught to help customers find solutions, even if that solution was not to buy a Mac.
HAH!

You apparently haven't worked there very recently. Things have changed.
 

Mattie Num Nums

macrumors 68030
Mar 5, 2009
2,834
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USA
I used to work for an Apple Store, and I can tell you, this is very true. We were never encouraged to sell sell sell. We were taught to help customers find solutions, even if that solution was not to buy a Mac.
Are you sure about that. Working at a Store for 3 1/2 years I remember how important "metrics" where. All the spiffs handed out for selling .mac and APP. I remember every morning meeting those who didn't meet there Metrics where told to meet them. Before Apple got rid of bonuses our bonus was placed strictly on our Metrics.
 

Master Chief

macrumors 6502a
Mar 5, 2009
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Nice philosophy, but I have yet to meet the first sales person that sold me anything that I didn't already plan to buy. In any store. I mean. When I say no... nobody is going to change my mind. No sale. Period.

And when Apple wants to 'create a place for people to be'... where's the lounge corner? Preferable one with coffee and mini bar?
 

atari1356

macrumors 68000
Feb 27, 2004
1,586
32
The Apple store is great... unless you actually want to just walk in and buy something.

Then you search for 15 minutes trying to find an employee who is not busy helping someone else so you can check out.

I miss the dedicated checkout counter.
 

Pandora01

macrumors regular
Mar 21, 2008
213
0
Toronto
If I had to work in retail again, I'd like to work at an Apple Store. I'm sure it's 1000x better than working at The Gap. That was a freaking nightmare.
 

notjustjay

macrumors 603
Sep 19, 2003
6,040
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Canada, eh?
Certainly a neat and original layout, bright and friendly. Still reminds me of a boutique clothing store though. :)



Oops, I must have accidentally walked into the wrong store... :eek:
 

Brian92610

macrumors member
Feb 17, 2008
59
17
Are you sure about that. Working at a Store for 3 1/2 years I remember how important "metrics" where. All the spiffs handed out for selling .mac and APP. I remember every morning meeting those who didn't meet there Metrics where told to meet them. Before Apple got rid of bonuses our bonus was placed strictly on our Metrics.
^ Agreed. I worked for an Apple store recently and it was all about "metrics." If you didn't sell everyone APP, MobileMe and/or One to One, you were screwed. Before I quit, my manager threatened to fire me because I was only selling One to One to 1 out of every 4 customers I sold a computer to (the goal was 50%). It was hell working there and I will never buy a computer at an Apple Store again because of it (still love Apple, just have to buy online!).
 

Mattie Num Nums

macrumors 68030
Mar 5, 2009
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USA
If I had to work in retail again, I'd like to work at an Apple Store. I'm sure it's 1000x better than working at The Gap. That was a freaking nightmare.
Hate to tell you they don't call it Gapple for nothing. Almost all of the management upper and middle are from Gap, Pottery Barn, or the likes.


^ Agreed. I worked for an Apple store recently and it was all about "metrics." If you didn't sell everyone APP, MobileMe and/or One to One, you were screwed. Before I quit, my manager threatened to fire me because I was only selling One to One to 1 out of every 4 customers I sold a computer to (to goal was 50%). It was hell working there and I will never buy a computer at an Apple Store again because of it (still love Apple, just have to buy online!).
Before One-One selling ProCare was a must. If you didn't you heard about it. Also for those who were with the company during the Easy Pay transition remember easy pay was another metric!
 

pawelthegreat

macrumors member
Jul 23, 2010
92
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Guelph, ON, Canada
Toronto's Eaton Center Apple Store is the only one I have been to, but I found it rather snobby. The sales persons were pretty nice, though.
No pushing products at your face like Future Shop (or Best Buy) or something.

Nice philosophy, but I have yet to meet the first sales person that sold me anything that I didn't already plan to buy. In any store. I mean. When I say no... nobody is going to change my mind. No sale. Period.
Same here.
 

kingtj

macrumors 68030
Oct 23, 2003
2,509
648
Brunswick, MD
Yep, THIS ....

The Apple store is designed so you'll "stay a little while", browsing around. Great, but they need to have the capability of handling the "grab and go" customers who know exactly what they want to buy, and just need to buy it and get out quickly.

Getting rid of the dedicated checkout counter was a bad idea, IMO. That and all the color-coded shirts the staff wears these days. Unless you're an Apple store "regular", you have no idea that a yellow shirt means one thing while a blue shirt means another, etc. etc. Only staff with certain t-shirt colors on can actually ring you out on a sale.....


The Apple store is great... unless you actually want to just walk in and buy something.

Then you search for 15 minutes trying to find an employee who is not busy helping someone else so you can check out.

I miss the dedicated checkout counter.
 

creeman

macrumors 6502
Oct 15, 2007
279
0
Last time I went to the Apple store I was very confused. All I was buying was some screen protectors, so I was just going to pay with cash. But, the nice lady behind the counter said she couldnt give me change. So, I was like, okay, Ill just pay with my debit card. She was like, well, I cant print out a receipt here, do you want me to just email it to you? The sale seemed to be way more complicated than it needed to be for just buying some screen protectors.
 

Mattie Num Nums

macrumors 68030
Mar 5, 2009
2,834
0
USA
The Apple store is designed so you'll "stay a little while", browsing around. Great, but they need to have the capability of handling the "grab and go" customers who know exactly what they want to buy, and just need to buy it and get out quickly.

Getting rid of the dedicated checkout counter was a bad idea, IMO. That and all the color-coded shirts the staff wears these days. Unless you're an Apple store "regular", you have no idea that a yellow shirt means one thing while a blue shirt means another, etc. etc. Only staff with certain t-shirt colors on can actually ring you out on a sale.....
All the employees HATED the easy pay. It just pissed customers off. It was a metric though and you had no choice but to use it.
 

Pandora01

macrumors regular
Mar 21, 2008
213
0
Toronto
Toronto's Eaton Center Apple Store is the only one I have been to, but I found it rather snobby. The sales persons were pretty nice, though.
No pushing products at your face like Future Shop (or Best Buy) or something.
Why did you find it snobby if the staff were nice?
 

macnewbie13

macrumors member
Jan 15, 2008
51
0
Massachusetts
How hard is it to work at apple store and how is the chances that they will hire you
I am currently going through the hiring process just to be a Specialist (aka a Sales Associate). It's a 4 part process:
1) Hiring Seminar where you learn more about the stores/positions available and answer questions in a group. You do a little group activity as well. All while Apple employees (mainly store managers) observe you.
2) If they liked you from the seminar they call you back for an interview with a store manager, this can either be just you and the manager or you, someone else and the manager.
3)You have to make a little video presentation (about 2mins) saying why you would be a good fit at the Apple Store
4) You have another interview, this time with the Regional Manager.

You also have to make a profile and fill out an application on the Apple website and fill out another website for a background check. All in all, I think it is worth it (if I get the job that is, haha). I've worked in retail for close to 6 years now and am ready to work in a non-traditional retail store.