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The face and the brand

In the five years since the iPhone launched, Apple created a total of 35,852 retail jobs.

Some of those jobs came from new store openings. The total store count went from 172 to 361, more than doubling. But the growth in employment was faster: from about 6400 to 42,200, more than quintupling. This is reflected in the total number of employees per store which increased from 37 in Q1 2007 to 117 in Q1 2012.

Which brings up an obvious question:  Why did Apple triple employment at each store? One could answer that many of the newer stores are bigger, so-called flagship stores. But the vast majority of stores are in mall locations which are of limited size. Flagship stores alone cannot account for the increase. One could also suggest that perhaps the stores are open longer and there is a need for more shifts. Again, the vast majority of stores are constrained by the opening hours of malls which, as far as I know, have been steady. Anecdotally, it’s also evident that there are more employees in a store at a given time. There are many more of those colored T-shirts at first glance.

One hint is in the design changes in the stores. Apple has removed shelving, registers and almost all non-Apple merchandise. It has replaced the visible stock with tables on which rest products that can be used. If there weren’t any people in the store, the store would look almost completely empty, just an open space.

But that’s the whole point. The stores are designed to be filled with people. The stores have an open layout because it allows more people to be inside the store at the same time. And the more people the more employees.

We have the data to prove this: The visitors per store per quarter increased from 125k in Q1 2007 to 235.5k last quarter. Nearly double the number of visitors in five years. It’s this increased traffic that is closest tied to the increase in employment. This is illustrated by the following chart:

Employment is very closely correlated with total visitors. In fact, employment has risen faster even than visitors. By dividing the number of visitors by the number of employees we see how the number has declined.

[If we consider the time an employee spends working we can even guess that the average visit was served by about 14 minutes of employee interaction--this is up from 9 minutes five years ago.]

If we assume this relationship as causal, then it might be that the stores are “tuned” to ensure a reasonable if not pleasurable experience for the visitor. In other words, the proxy for a “quality” experience is the assistance of an Apple retail employee.

Taking this a step further, we can perhaps hypothesize that Apple is treating its retail stores as hired to provide a human touch to its products–not just as a service but as a way to listen and help in the most basic way. Steve Jobs once said that Apple no longer had to be present at trade shows because they have millions of conversations with their customers every day through their stores. These conversations happen with the retail staff.

Through their Apple retail staff, Apple might even be said to be putting a face on their brand. You can see it in the advertising.

The corollary to this would be that the job of the store is not primarily to sell things. This is confirmed by the fact that store employees are not on commission and there is no sales pressure on visitors. Indeed, the sheer number of employees in a store of modest size (117 employees on an average of about 8k sq. ft.) implies a brazen disregard for the economic orthodoxy of retail efficiency and incentives to sell.

And yet the stores are astonishingly efficient at selling things. The statistics are off the charts in terms of sales per square foot and overall profitability. Even though this employee time has a cost, revenues and profits have all risen in unison.[1]

Of course, the products have a lot to do with this performance. Apple stores sell desirable, popular products which are premium priced. But taking these desired products and coupling them with a “human touch” job to be done strengthens the brand as well as expands its volume of sales. It may be that Apple’s retail approach could not work with a brand that was less desired. I.e. regardless of a large head count, a Sony store may not see the return on retail investment that Apple gets. Conversely, by not putting a face on Apple’s brand the products may not sell quite as briskly. Ron Johnson said on the launch of the iPad that the stores were almost designed for it. Discovery and hands-on time create demand.

It’s as if Apple retail has an inter-dependence with Apple, the brand. One cannot live without the other.

This is, as far as I know, a unique relationship for a technology company. If anything, most technology companies have sought the exact opposite: to put others’ faces in front of customers–to break the messy process of sales and support down into pieces to be outsourced to “value adding” resellers.

A pity then that this humanizing touch takes such a long time to build.

Note:

  1. If we take a visitor-centric point of view, the analysis of the retail business simplifies considerably.  We can even derive an “income statement per visitor”. Revenues are measured per visitor (currently about $52/visit). Costs are measured in terms of employee time. A $15/hr average wage and 15 min interaction time per visit puts the service cost at $3.75/visit. Profit per visit is also measurable and it’s currently at $13/visit. Therefore the employee “FaceTime” costs 7% of sales, while other costs, including the cost of goods sold, add up to 66% of sales.
  • http://www.thenetworkgarden.com hypermark

    I think it represents a fundamental shift from an economy of horizontal, loosely coupled industries, and towards more deeply integrated + differentiated ones.

    • Klasse

      I am sceptical whether we will see a shift or not when it comes to having your own retail stores. Retail works marvelously for Apple, but may not work for others (as Horace mentions with Sony as an example). Retail stoes fit well into Apple’s strategy, and there are mutually reinforcing effects with other parts of the company’s strategy. However, I don’t think retail will necessarily have this effect for other companies that copy Apple’s retail concept.

      • http://www.thenetworkgarden.com hypermark

        As a point of clarity, just doing retail without differentiation, and/or the end-to-end integration so that it fits holistically is a recipe for failure. However, that doesn’t change the fact that without an orchestrated engagement, sales and support support channel, many, if not most most, brands will struggle to build durable market niches.

        This ties in with a larger assertion that this trend isn’t limited to Apple wannabes in tech, but is more of a macro shift destined to play out over the next decade or more across industries.

      • JohnDoey

        If you want to sell a really complex technology product to consumers, you need your own stores. Every consumer has already been burned by generic Lego nerd tech. They want guarantees and they want someone to complain to and they want the promise that everything works. It is only the low standards of generic tech that cause a consumer to have to demand these things today.

        Microsoft always encouraged “power users” to act as volunteer Geniuses for the other 90% of users. Apple changed things by a) paying the Geniuses, b) training them to act in the consumer’s self-interest, c) enabled the consumer to rely on the Genius to be there next month, next year, next iPad or next Mac.

      • http://twitter.com/NeverMissGift Cristina Sierra

        John, I would disagree that the retail employees in Apple are selling. People are coming in demanding products and it’s more of an order taking model. In fact, Apple set up an app within the store that let’s users do self check out and guess what, theft went down!

        From what I can see, Apple’s genius bar employees are more for customer support / service to train users, keep them addicted to the products, and replace flawed products. I’ve owned 2 iPhones and both had issues which couldn’t be resolved – in both cases I was handed a brand new phone at no cost. That’s very different than having to sell the products.

  • MattF

    A lot of companies say they offer ‘systems and services’, rather than merchandise, e.g., hardware and/or software. Apple actually does it– and, I think, uniquely, does it for any customer who walks in off the street.

    • Walt French

      Yes, this is key.

      Consider trying to buy a dress or sweater in Costco, where there are no dressing rooms. The retail experience debases the value of the product— you cant tell whether you’ll have to undergo the hassle of a return— so products have to sell for less.

      It looks like Apple has figured how to manage its stores so that retailing is more valuable to customers than it costs Apple to provide. In this circumstance, Econ 101 says that Apple should provide MORE retail support, either in more employees or better trained/better-hired staff. Looks like they’re doing both.

      My example of the Apple retail experience was when my wife wanted an iMac and the guy she talked to asked her needs (typical email/surfing/facebook; streaming music and some iPhoto), then recommended the much less expensive machine than I had thought to get. Those 14 minutes of interaction were worth hundreds of dollars.

      Retail can be a very valuable “service and support” item.

      • JohnDoey

        So many think they need an iMac and they don’t. It is great that Apple helps people by selling down when that is appropriate.

    • neutrino23

      Home Depot offers a similar experience to what you get at the Apple store. Clearly the ratios are different but they do offer expert help and those people will stay with you till you find what you need.

      • stevesko

        Try finding a person in any asile at Home Depot. When they came to the northeast their stores were packed with trained sales staff and they dominated over Rickel and Chanel (both gone) now their stores have no staff (and then no customers)

      • Tatil_S

        Try visiting a Home Depot before noon. I noticed a night and day difference between the number of readily available helpful reps when I go there at 10am versus in the afternoon in our local one. A similar, but not as start pattern exists in our OSH as well.

      • Scott_S

        This is what happened in Seattle, too. When HD first opened here, I loved to go because it was easy to get knowledgeable advice about some simple home repair jobs and the stuff I would need to do it. Now, it’s practically a desert. Still good advice, but almost no sales folks on the floor.

      • Pete_0

        seriously?

        have never had a good service experience at HD, never ever

      • http://twitter.com/gassee Jean-Louis Gassée

        “Home Depot offers a similar experience to what you get at the Apple store.”
        I’m puzzled and curious. I frequent both in Palo Alto (East for HD), there couldn’t be a starker contrast between the two. What are your terms of comparison, what makes them similar?

      • neutrino23

        Clearly these are different businesses, different size stores, inventories. I’ve had good experiences in the San Mateo store. There were people available who’d had experince in building or contracting who could give knowledgeable advice. When you asked them a question they didn’t just give you a reply but offered to walk with you to make sure you found the desired product.

        Clearly there were far fewer employees compared to an Apple store, but there was a similarity.

        I’ll add that my experince is limited as I’m an infrequent visitor to HD.

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  • Jim Zellmer

    Yet, one can observe small decisions here and there. While swapping a problematic iPhone recently, I noticed that most packaged software is long gone. Yet, modest yellow MS Office packages retain shelf space adjacent to keyboards. Perhaps “surface” reveals a bit more on the placement requirements.

    • rattyuk

      Jim, It’s based on what is sold in the Mac App store. There is little point in ongoing store displays of software any Apple user can by from the comfort of his own desktop.

      And, yes, you cannot buy Microsoft Office from the App store so that’s probably why they are left on the shelf.

      • Jim Zellmer

        Agreed, but the fact that a shrink-wrap version of MS Office remains on a shelf tells us something about store visitors, Apple and the market.

        Office is available as a download from Microsoft, but not, to my knowledge, in the Mac App Store. http://www.microsoft.com/mac/buy

      • JohnDoey

        It tells you that Microsoft has not yet released Microsoft Office on Mac App Store, period. Apple has been selling Microsoft Office direct to Mac users since 1989, when it was created, and for 5 years before that as separate components.

        Word and Excel we’re created by Microsoft at Apple’s request. They were made for the Mac. They were specifically made for Apple to sell to Mac users. The fact that there is a Windows version or download doesn’t matter to a Mac user who has been buying a copy of Microsoft Office with their Mac for roughly 25 years.

      • barryotoole

        I’ve been able to download MS Office for Mac from Amazon, and it is there in my digital locker to re-download in case I format my computer’s HDD or for use in another Mac (it has three licenses, being a family edition).

      • http://chipotle.tumblr.com/ Watts

        While I agree with your general point, I can’t help but nitpick the history there. Microsoft Word was released for DOS and Xenix (!) in 1983, and didn’t come to the Mac until 1985. Excel was a Mac original, but could also arguably be seen as a Mac port of Multiplan, which came out for DOS and CP/M several years before.

        Also, I can’t find any supporting reference for the assertion that Word and Excel were *originally* created–or ported to the Mac–at Apple’s request; are you sure about that? Apple had already created two word processors of their own, MacWrite and WriteNow. And in the 1984-85 time frame we’re talking about, it would have made far more sense for Apple to be courting Lotus for a spreadsheet, not Microsoft. 1-2-3 was the king of the hill and Multiplan was a second banana. Lotus was actually in the Mac market first with Jazz–it’s just that Jazz was an utter fiasco.

      • http://chipotle.tumblr.com/ Watts

        While I agree with your general point, I can’t help but nitpick the history there. Microsoft Word was released for DOS and Xenix (!) in 1983, and didn’t come to the Mac until 1985. Excel was a Mac original, but could also arguably be seen as a Mac port of Multiplan, which came out for DOS and CP/M several years before.

        Also, I can’t find any supporting reference for the assertion that Word and Excel were *originally* created–or ported to the Mac–at Apple’s request; are you sure about that? Apple had already created two word processors of their own, MacWrite and WriteNow. And in the 1984-85 time frame we’re talking about, it would have made far more sense for Apple to be courting Lotus for a spreadsheet, not Microsoft. 1-2-3 was the king of the hill and Multiplan was a second banana. Lotus was actually in the Mac market first with Jazz–it’s just that Jazz was an utter fiasco.

      • http://chipotle.tumblr.com/ Watts

        While I agree with your general point, I can’t help but nitpick the history there. Microsoft Word was released for DOS and Xenix (!) in 1983, and didn’t come to the Mac until 1985. Excel was a Mac original, but could also arguably be seen as a Mac port of Multiplan, which came out for DOS and CP/M several years before.

        Also, I can’t find any supporting reference for the assertion that Word and Excel were *originally* created–or ported to the Mac–at Apple’s request; are you sure about that? Apple had already created two word processors of their own, MacWrite and WriteNow. And in the 1984-85 time frame we’re talking about, it would have made far more sense for Apple to be courting Lotus for a spreadsheet, not Microsoft. 1-2-3 was the king of the hill and Multiplan was a second banana. Lotus was actually in the Mac market first with Jazz–it’s just that Jazz was an utter fiasco.

      • Tatil_S

        My experience with Lotus says it is a fiasco on any platform. :)

  • claimchowder

    There are other technology companies that follow a similar approach. It is most notable in high end automobile dealerships, luxury watches, SLR cameras and other high-end tech equipment.

    • http://twitter.com/qka qka

      Cameras and watches are usually sold at specialized, high end stores, but they are not associated with the manufacturer and are at best “authorized retailers” Likewise for automobiles of any kind, the difference being that the manufacturers name is prominently featured in the dealer’s marketing and branding.

      • claimchowder

        Depends. You are probably right for watches etc. But at least here in Germany all local high end car dealerships are single brand (Audi, Porsche, BMW, Mercedes), share a very similar appearance and architecture, and are often (co-)owned by the car maker. The multi-brand experience is limited to the likes of Kia, Hyundai, Dacia, Skoda etc.

  • GuruFlower

    I notice that you estimate an average wage of $15/hour for Apple Store employees. The NY Times article this Sunday estimated “average base hourly pay at $11.91/hour (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/24/business/apple-store-workers-loyal-but-short-on-pay.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all). I’m curious as to why two such esteemed sources should have such widely divirgent opinions on Apple’s average hourly wage?

    • Ahmad Kadhim

      I believe $11.91 is the average for specialists. But of course, there are also Geniuses and Creatives and Business positions that probably make more money.

      I’m not 100% sure on that, but it’s a likely explanation for how the NYT number is so low. I absolutely know that Geniuses do get paid significantly more than specialists.

    • newtonrj

      Benefits and taxes.

    • http://twitter.com/qka qka

      Last week, Apple gave store US employees a raise of about $4. That came after the NY Times article research was conducted.

      • Sacto_Joe

        …and before the story broke. Once again, the NY Times is left with egg on its face.

        But direct compensation isn’t the only benefit to working for Apple. My wife, who is an ex-Apple employee, received 100% matching on her 401k. In addition, she was able to aquire Apple stock very inexpensively. Finally, especially productive employees are granted stock options.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      NYT cites starting or base pay. The pay of Geniuses is higher as is the pay of managers or creatives. Pay also increases with time on the job. I chose $15 as an average. You can see the pay ranges as reported by employees here: http://www.glassdoor.com/Hourly-Pay/Apple-Hourly-Pay-E1138.htm

    • JohnDoey

      Only a very small number of new employees would be making that. NYT is also a known bozo when it comes to Apple.

    • http://twitter.com/fivetonsflax fivetonsflax

      Perhaps Horace is measuring compensation (including benefits) rather than “base pay”?

  • oases

    You work so hard. You’re tireless. Do you enjoy it?

  • J. Israelsson

    Do we know if these employees are full time employees? I believe its common in retail that you work part time so if we don’t know the average working hours of the employees part of the increase could be due to more employees working fewer number of hours.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      The figure cited by Apple is full time equivalent employees (FTE).

  • Igor

    Two years ago Apple mentioned that they were planning on having 25 retail stores in China… in two years. They haven’t met the target that they set themselves. One can argue that the bureaucracy is to blame, and that could definitely have something to do with it, but I find it hard to believe that Apple didn’t foresee this when they announced the aggressive target. The market was not new to them and they already had experience in opening retail stores in China prior to that. Meanwhile, the popularity of Apple’s brand and products has literally exploded in China in the past two years, with sales increasing multiple times over and fake Apple stores popping up everywhere. You would think that Apple is in need to expand aggressively now more than ever. Would you like to venture a guess as to what has prevented Apple from meeting the target? What’s holding them back?

    Also, having just come back from China, have you observed any differences between the stores in China and elsewhere in the West, apart from the fact that they’re more crowded? Thanks!

    • http://twitter.com/ChristianPeel Christian Peel

      Hopefully Apple is not willing to bribe officials or to otherwise participate in the corruption that is widespread in china http://www.businessinsider.com/how-the-chinese-kleptrocracy-works-2012-6

      Not paying bribes or otherwise participating in the corruption present would slow down store openings.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shameer-Mulji/1685212657 Shameer Mulji

        In countries like China, India, and especially Africa (no disrespect), corruption in business is a way life, so to speak. It’s ingrained in the culture and near impossible to escape. What is considered illegal here, in many cases is considered okay there.

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        American companies which engage in bribing in other countries are breaking US laws and can be prosecuted in the US. These laws exist in Europe as well (though not universally).

      • kankerot

        Great in theory but not in practice.
        http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/jun/07/bae1
        The UK Prime Minister stoped an active Police investigation into BAE over their use of slush funds in the £60bn Al-Yamamah arms deal.
        There are countless cases of these activities that are acceptable when they are used to win foreign contracts.

      • JohnDoey

        Corruption in business is also a way of life in the US. It is just done legally here.

      • Tatil_S

        They may be considered “routine” or “extortionate”, but not really “OK” even in those places.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Update: CNBC’s Jim Goldman reports that Johnson said that Apple is planning to open “up to 25″ retail stores in China over the next 24 months. http://www.macrumors.com/2010/02/25/apple-planning-to-open-25-retail-stores-in-china/
      Including Hong Kong, there are currently six stores in China, three more scheduled to open this year and three more under development with unknown opening dates.
      The store I visited in Shanghai is said to be the busiest and highest grossing store in the world. It looks like any other Apple store inside. It’s about the same size as the New York store. When I was there is did not appear particularly crowded but it was late in the evening on a Friday.

    • JohnDoey

      Who cares? They are obviously paying a ton of attention to China, obviously having enormous success there, and they have no real competition because the rest of the world turned its back on software 20 years ago, and today’s computers are 99.9% software. Only 0.1% of the bits are in the hardware device. ARM is literally microscopic. Settle in for an Apple-dominated 10 years or more while literally everyone else catches up to where Apple was 5 years ago.

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  • vladiim

    “Apple might even be said to be putting a face on their brand”

    This statement particularly resonates with me. Given the fragmentation of media, general decline in the performance of mass advertising and increase in importance of the “trusted curator” in my purchase-making discussion (i.e. your customers as a media channel) Apple/Zappos/Amazon’s approach of investing in customer interactions makes a lot of sense.

    Your model on the approximate income statement per visit is excellent but I’d be interested to see the knock on effect on something like the Net Promotor Score. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a strong correlation between a store visit and increased propensity to promote the brand, which of course drives value in Apple’s most powerful media channel – their customers.

    • JohnDoey

      From my personal experience, I have no idea why Amazon is on your list of good customer service providers.

      • David

        From my personal experience, Amazon should be on the top of the list of good customer service providers. The few times I’ve had to return something they made it incredibly easy.

    • stevesko

      Love Zappos – I have recommend them to many. Amazon was smart to do the Prime program – they figured out what irritated people about online shopping and both eliminated the prime impediment and created incredible brand loyalty all at once. Everyone I know with Prime don’t even shop another place for most items. My father gets his dog food delivered.

  • http://profiles.google.com/leskern Les Kern

    Has a study been done to see where these workers CAME from? Dig down and I will bet you these numbers are a sham or at the very least mostly misleading.

    • FalKirk

      What are you even talking about?

      • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

        Haven’t you heard? Apple’s success is a chimera, they haven’t sold anything to anybody, and the staff in Apple stores are clones.

      • N8nnc

        Note that none of the colorful shirts are Soylent Green!

      • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

        Macs are made of People! People!

      • FalKirk

        Oh, my heavens, you truly made me laugh out loud.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      What do you mean where the workers came from? They came from home to work in a store. The numbers are from Apple’s reporting to shareholders. If you think they are a sham and have evidence for the claim then contact the SEC.

    • JohnDoey

      My understanding is that these workers would otherwise likely be unemployed. When you take Apple out of the numbers, the 21st century has been absolute crap for business.

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  • Leland

    Having spent my fair share of time shopping at, say, H&M, the number of Apple retail employees — and the fact that so many of them can conduct purchases — makes a lot of sense.

    Every time my wife and I are at H&M, we browse, hit the fitting room, choose some stuff, and then spend the other half of our in-store time in line at an understaffed cashier counter. At any Apple store, on the other hand, we can be in and out in five or ten minutes, whether it’s empty (rare) or crowded with tourists (not rare).

    It’s all about the customer, I’d say. You’re simply not going to handle the crowds at the Fifth Avenue store with ten blue shirts, so they’re all over the place instead. Apple is willing to hire more floor staff, and since they sell so much per square foot, they can easily afford it.

    • JohnDoey

      Or do they sell more per square foot because they have more employees per square foot?

      • Leland

        Well, the merchandise isn’t exactly cheap filler. H&M has pounds and pounds of $10-20 items while people spend hundreds or thousands of dollars at a time at Apple. They’re jewelry-priced goods with the foot traffic of a McDonald’s.

  • accidentaldesign

    Here in New Zealand we are big Apple fans by all accounts. The anecdotal majority of smartphones in use here are iPhones, lots of students buy MacBooks, lots of people and businesses are buying and rolling out iPads (such as our government).

    And there are no Apple stores.

    We must buy our Apple products at ordinary consumer electronics retailers or the Apple website (serviced from Australia). So I don’t believe the weight that is being placed on the Apple stores for Apple’s success is as big as you’re making out. Here in New Zealand they are as successful as anywhere else by relying on the brand and the product alone.

  • neutrino23

    “Steve Jobs once said that Apple no longer had to be present at trade shows because they have millions of conversations with their customers every day through their stores. These conversations happen with the retail staff.”

    In terms of gross numbers this is correct. However, I think that the quality of a visit to an Apple store is not the same as meeting with the product teams at MWSF. No knock on the Apple stores. I just wish Apple would provide some access for professionals.

    • JohnDoey

      That happens through developer or enterprise channels, now. Essentially backstage.

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  • Will

    I spoke to one of the senior looking apple store staff in one of the flagship store and was told that they have a ‘one-to-one’ session for businesses. Technical support and to some extent, an IT/ sys admin department is provided to small businesses. They go out to client sites. This was about a year ago in London. Perhaps some of the ‘surplus’ employees have this precise function.

  • mark212

    Read this together with Horace’s work on the shift in user interface from keyboard/mouse to Touch and now to Voice. Such a transition begs for human-to-human informal instruction.

    The UI itself is so highly refined and polished that even my 18 month old daughter picks it up after watching me a couple of times, but that initial encounter isn’t immediately obvious, especially to folks who are worried about “breaking the computer.”

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  • Raybury

    “since the iPhone launched”

    Bingo. Prior to and since the advent of the iPhone, Apple Stores have had two other key categories: iPods and Macs. Macs take a lot of sales time, but are high-priced enough that one cannot expect a lot of volume in relative terms: A few sales people is enough. iPods don’t take much to set up or explain, especially once a couple generations were out, so again: A few sales people is enough, and for iPods there was little real advantage to buying at the Apple Store versus other retailers.

    Enter the iPhone: It takes more sales time to set up (including starting cell carrier accounts), but is not high-priced in relative terms. Further, the option of setting up a phone in a traditional cell phone shop (major carrier, authorized dealer, or Radio Shack) is an abysmal experience.

    Staff up to make setting up iPhones a better experience, and you end up selling a lot of them.

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  • addicted

    An interesting point of comparison is Dell, with whom the only human interaction folks had was when they called the call center people after they already had issues with the Dell products.

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  • Steve in Chianti

    It works. In my experience – 6 major purchases over 4 or 5 years – I have known pretty much what I wanted before going to the store or i thought I did and was happy to have staff confirm my predisposition.
    I have shopped at Apple stores in New York, London and Sydney and agree with whoever said Jobs revolutionised retail along with computers, music sales, phones etc. A big impact from one man and/or his company.

  • Chris

    Great article–Horace. It’s another nugget in your distribution system thesis. Because of your work, I’ve come to understand that the growth of a great American business is as much about the growth of its distribution system as it is their product, or in the case of Wal-Mart only about its distribution system, as it sells things everyone else does.

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  • ADVILL

    From my point of view, one of your best analysis, the point is if “halo” effect of Apple store can be reflected in the thousands POS in Walmart or any other “corner stores”.

    It seems by Accidentaldesign comment from New Zealand that “halo” works outside U.S. not so sure if the contrary can be true in the States.

    Rgds.

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