I've previously written about Apple's need to step up their level of service, using luxury car service shops as an example.? Apple Insider has a story about Apple rolling out business-friendly, or at least small-business-friendly, services to its retail stores:
Apple is said to have at least one salesperson dedicated to managing accounts with local businesses, and has also recently begun recruiting within its sales staff to create a team that negotiates leasing and pricing terms for business clients. People familiar with the company's plans said the strategy has proven successful, as some stores have seen their revenue more than double after implementing the program.
Well, it is brilliant to leverage the retail outlets as a differentiator for small-business-owners, who might prefer to just pop into the Apple store for something rather than ship their laptop off to a repair center. However, if that is going to be a differentiator, Apple still needs to address services like in-store repair rather than shipping off your laptop, or else provide reasonable loaner programs.? Providing discounts to small businesses is a smart way to get some buyers off the fence, who might have only been holding back over pricing concerns.
But the real value is value-added services for businesses: that's what creates lock-in.? And, if possible, leveraging the install base of Apple Stores to differentiate.? Given how crowded these spaces are already, however, it may require rethinking how much square footage is needed in a typical Apple Store to provide the full range of services.