Apple stores are a paradox. People love them, even though the service is awful. Yes, the service is better than Best Buy and other big retailers, but it’s still awful. So why are Apple stores far and away the highest grossing retail stores, per square foot?
The Apple Store was designed to create an ownership experience from the moment a customer walks through the door. When Steve Jobs gave a tour of the first Apple Store in 2001, he said that all computers were connected to the Internet. “You can go up to any computer and start surfing, go to your personal web site, or do whatever you want to do on the Internet.” The devices have changed but you can still walk up to any product in the store and start using it—read books on the iPad, discover apps on an iPod Touch, listen to music on an iPod, or play games on the new MacBook Pro. The ownership experience is more important than a sale. . . .
Walk into a ‘big box’ retailer and you often find the opposite scenario. The devices are turned off and the screens are black. It should be no surprise that some of these retailers like Best Buy are in financial trouble and looking for ways to improve the customer experience.
Obviously this isn’t limited to shiny gadgets. The puppy close has been around forever. Apple and others have simply moved that experience from your home to their store. The bigger challenge is to create an ownership experience with services or intangible goods like software.