Inside Apple's Retail Store Operation

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jun 15, 2011.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    In the wake of yesterday's announcement regarding Apple retail chief Ron Johnson's pending departure to take the CEO position at department store chain J.C. Penney, The Wall Street Journal publishes an extensive look at the company's retail store operations and philosophy, relying on internal training materials and interviews with former employees to gain a sense of what Apple is doing differently from other companies that has made its retail stores such an overwhelming success.
    While much of the information has been published in other venues or is simply common knowledge given the company's retail store workforce of 30,000 employees, the extensive report does nicely summarize much of what has gone into developing the Apple retail store experience.
    While Apple may not have strict sales quotas in place for its employees, the company does certainly have performance goals for metrics such as "attachment rates", the frequency with which staff members are able to convince customers to add on ancillary products such as AppleCare to their purchases. Staff members who fall short of the goals receive additional sales training or are diverted to other positions within the store.


    The report also covers the history of Apple's retail store initiative, noting that it began at a time when Apple was struggling to return to prominence following the return of Steve Jobs and when the company was having a hard time achieving appropriate visibility in third-party retail stores. Even in stores such as CompUSA where Apple had dedicated display areas, the company was frustrated over its inability to control the customer experience.

    Consequently, Jobs brought in Gap president Mickey Drexler, who joined Apple's board and assisted with defining the company's retail store goals. Ron Johnson was recruited from Target to lead the effort, and the retail store push began with an extensive period of planning and mockups that ultimately led to the first two stores opening in Tysons Corner, Virginia and Glendale, California in May 2001.

    Apple's meticulous attention to detail extends down to its hiring process, where prospective employees generally participate in several rounds of competitive interviews assessing a variety of details including problem-solving skills, leadership qualities, and enthusiasm for Apple products.
    Apple's retail store chain has already grown to over 325 stores in eleven countries, and the company has been pushing forward on larger and more iconic stores in an ever-growing number of markets, continually extending its reach with what has become one the most successful retail sales models in use today.

    Article Link: Inside Apple's Retail Store Operation
  2. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    Can't wait to see how Apple rebounds.

    He is an integral part of Apple Retail.
  3. talkingfuture macrumors 65816


    Dec 4, 2008
    The back of beyond.
    I guess this shows just how committed apple are to getting everything as they want it.
  4. dagamer34 macrumors 65816


    May 1, 2007
    Houston, TX
    Man, attachments are the reason I don't go into retail stores that much. They hate people like me who know what they want and nothing else.
  5. 184550 Guest

    May 8, 2008
    I didn't realize the scope and depth of indoctrination Apple employees go through.
  6. applefan289 macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2010
    Yeah, I've always been for ordering online.
  7. wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
    The guy who sold me my MacBook Pro was rather pushy but I'm glad Apple is not promoting that.
  8. vincenz macrumors 601


    Oct 20, 2008
    Who cares if they "hate" you. Go in, buy, and leave.
  9. HelveticaNeue macrumors 6502a


    Apr 24, 2010
    I don't think anyone should be surprised that Apple exercises such control over every aspect of their business, right down to ensuring that their Geniuses only use positive language like "as it turns out" in lieu of "unfortunately".
  10. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    I think if a retail store wants to be truly revolutionary, they shouldn't even track "attachment rates". Train the staff to ask if they want AppleCare, or if they want to buy ___ with their purchase, sure. But if the customer says no, leave it at that. Don't divert employees for failing to sell "enough". Let them focus on being straight talkers.

    For that matter, they should take that "solve the customer's problem" to the very end and, if it really sounds like the customer really ought to go buy a Dell PC, then the associate should be free to say so. Despite the doctrine, Macs can't be 100% for everybody.

    Establish a store with a reputation of honest straight talk sales staff with absolutely no pressure. Apple could pull it off, too, because of its philosophy of designing products that WOW you. Let the products sell themselves. THAT would be revolutionary.
  11. roland.g macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    Apparently this is neither the story on Apple's Back to School promo nor is it a rumor of how that promo will be launched tomorrow or the next day or the next... :cool:
  12. reden macrumors 6502

    Aug 30, 2006
    They should work on how annoying it is to have employees blocking the entrances, and asking you if they can help you with anything all the time as soon as you put a foot in the door. It causes tension more than anything on the customer. They should just do what other stores do... If the customer needs help, let them ask for it.
  13. WhySoSerious macrumors 65816


    Jun 30, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    I hate purchasing things via actual stores. It's always about pressure to sell add-ons. Whether it's Apple pushing accessories/applecare or Abercromie pushing belts/cologne/hats when all you wanted was 1 pair of jeans. It's too much of a pain in the rear.
  14. maxizod macrumors newbie

    Jun 15, 2011
    Amazing staff

    I have been routinely amazed by the staff as they suggest solutions for my questions in surprising ways. One guy even suggested going to a competitor to purchase the part I needed as he knew they didn't sell it at the Apple store.

    Very impressed.
  15. radiohead14 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 6, 2008
    slight off topic: the 5th Ave NY store has boards up surrounding it right now. i'm hoping it's for the new Macbook Air release :)
  16. Aduntu macrumors 6502a


    Mar 29, 2010
    I usually just say no. That seems to work for me.
  17. WannaGoMac macrumors 65816

    Feb 11, 2007
    Hmm, I haven't encountered that level of service. While you don't like the "service", others may like high end instant service.

    "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" on apple i guess
  18. Maddix macrumors member

    Jan 25, 2011
    I never buy extended warranty's. I hate when being pushed to buy one even though I make it clear I'm not interested.
  19. AdeFowler macrumors 68020


    Aug 27, 2004
  20. WhySoSerious macrumors 65816


    Jun 30, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    A successful salesman never takes "no" for an answer. It'll work on the weak ones, but the ones who are good at their job and make a living off of it, they treat "no" as "tell me more". :rolleyes:
  21. Tomskey macrumors newbie

    Jun 15, 2011
    Same as Disney

    I used to work in The Disney Store, they used to have a very similar approach..... more about discovering what Customers (er sorry Guests) want rather than sell.... alas that all went out the window some years back and now look clearly so did their sales....

    Keep it up Apple ;-)
  22. barnetty macrumors member

    Jun 14, 2011
    wow...i thought this was an isolated thing that happened to me last year when i went to buy a MBAir.

    I had already scouted all the versions and knew exactly the one i wanted so when i walked into the store i just said i want the Macbook Air ...with such and such. They guy then starts asking me stuff like "who is it for?", "what are they going to use it for?", "does that person currently own bla bla bla?" ...ultimately i got pissed and asked the guy if there was some reason why i wasnt allowed to just buy the one i was asking for and if i needed to fill some sort of requirement in order for him to allow me to pay him for the computer? then the guy got angry and told me that he considered himself a "salesman" and if he just sells me the machine then he is nothing but a clerk.

    ultimately i ended up getting the one i wanted because if was a gift a buddy had asked me to get for his dad but geez i almost turned around and just walked out of there empty handed.
  23. *LTD* macrumors G4


    Feb 5, 2009
    A case study in success.

    User Experience doesn't begin and end with the OS. It's a journey from cradle to grave, and it begins right when you walk into the Store. It's an integral part of the Apple ecosystem, and the attention to detail put into it reflects just that.
  24. MacMan86, Jun 15, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011

    MacMan86 macrumors 6502

    Jul 22, 2008
    No, we generally don't/didn't. The targets are never 100% - it was expected that we'd get customers who know what they want, buy and leave. To be honest, it was often quite nice to get a short, simple sale. Not having to explain the Mac from scratch everytime gives a bit of relief when you're explaining iWork all day.

    It's as much to discourage potential shoplifters as it is to create a welcoming atmosphere. People have done studies - if you're acknowledged when you walk in, you're less likely to try to steal.

    In an Apple Store, no means no - that's what you're told. You're not selling second hand cars, it's never a case of "tell me more".

    Ha, in a perfect world perhaps. I've seen new recruits rushed through Core Training (normally a two week programme) in less than 3 days and put straight out onto the floor, no shadowing, with less than a day of product knowledge training.
  25. countermind macrumors newbie

    Apr 6, 2009
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/534.32 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8F190 Safari/6533.18.5)

    "According to several employees and training manuals, sales associates are taught an unusual sales philosophy: not to sell, but rather to help customers solve problems. "Your job is to understand all of your customers' needs - some of which they may not even realize they have," one training manual says."

    Not sure who writes these articles, but this is a fundamental tenet of all professional sales. People want to buy stuff, they just don't like to be "sold".

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