#Apple: Still America's Best Retailer?

Scott Francis
Next Post
Previous Post
Sometimes its good to review “how we saw the world” at a given point in time.  Back in 2007, 2.5 years ago, Jerry Useem wrote an article tagging Apple as “America’s Best Retailer“. Its still a great read to see how Apple approached retail.  And if you go look at the stats, they are dominating:
And not just the architecture. Saks, whose flagship is down the street, generates sales of $362 per square foot a year. Best Buy (Charts) stores turn $930 – tops for electronics retailers – while Tiffany & Co. (Charts) takes in $2,666. Audrey Hepburn liked Tiffany’s for breakfast. But at $4,032, Apple is eating everyone’s lunch.
I’m pretty sure if you look them up today, they are still dominating this statistics.  That Saks store is their flagship… The Apple figure is their store average…  I still remember when I read that Apple was rolling out a retail strategy that it sounded like a disaster to me.  After all, other computer retailers (Gateway?!) had tried and failed miserably.  It seemed antiquated to buy a computer in a retail outlet when you could order online, especially with rapidly deteriorating component prices at the time. But obviously Apple had something different in mind, and it has worked beautifully (for one – for the most part- they’ve separated the value of their devices from the underlying components that are used to build them).   If you read the article – don’t focus on the end-product – focus on the process they used to arrive at a good store and a good customer experience – it didn’t happen by accident. Having said that, I think they need to review their service approach now that the service volumes have increased along with their increased unit sales and number of customers across the iPod, iPhone, and Mac lineups.  The extra service volume is driving increasing complaints about access, wait-time, etc.  And you really don’t want your service reputation to be that of the local car mechanic (unless that car mechanic is BMW, which gets you in and out quickly, gives you a gratis loaner car, includes the first 4 years free maintenance in the price of the car, and charges you an arm and a leg after that!).  The other option is to encourage the proliferation of service shops that can provide similar services but without needing to support the same volume of foot traffic. Best Retailer?  The numbers say yes.  Best “after-sale-service experience?”  I’m not convinced on that one (and admittedly, the author of the article in 2007 wasn’t making that claim).