Apple stores are remarkable, and have been from their inception. But what’s even more impressive is how they continue to do less. They actually are removing more and more from the store. And it’s brilliant. Sure, the stores are packed with people. And they feel vibrant. But look more closely at the subtle interactions. You’re usually greeted almost instantly, but left alone to explore as you want.
What is truly impressive and virtually unmatched in consumer retail is what ISN’T in the Apple Store. There are no lines.
There are virtually no window displays.
There’s no garbage can.
There are no visible printers or point of sale devices.
There’s no Genius Bar (new stores only)
There’s no “kids area” (kids are now just as proficient as adults)
There’s no “customer service” section.
There’s no “Apple” word on the front of the store.
There’s barely a noticeable logo.
There’s no obvious supervisor.
There’s no visible storeroom, ladder, inventory of any kind other than attractive wall (no shelves) of products.
There’s no visible security area at checkout.
There’s no obvious “loss prevention” devices affixed in an ugly way to products.
There’s no painful plastic enclosures protecting small items.
There’s no ID checking when you buy something for thousands of dollars (they actually have to sell it to you even if you decline to show ID, crazy!)
There’s not one demo item that’s broken. Think about how many demo items at Radio Shack, Best Buy, etc., were set up and then abandoned, left in barely-working state.
There’s no “please let someone else use this” rushing.
There’s no hassle on returns (within a comfortable timeframe)
There’s no sale pricing, coupons, or other complexity. It costs what it costs.
There’s virtually no full-length signs, placards, table-top displays, banners or any other eye-distractions. Products are on tables for you to evaluate, try, and buy. No “hey, check me out!” desperation.
There’s no “keep your pet out” or obvious ” no food” signs. The stores are welcoming and clean. Extraordinarily clean.
There’s no handprints on all the devices despite them BEING TOUCHED ALL DAY LONG. They are meticulously wiped and cleaned throughout the day.
There’s no garbage on the floor.
There’s no interruptions via store PA system (“M.O.D. to cash wrap” is all too familiar if you’re in retail)
There’s no ticket for your appointment. They know WHO you are because they take note of what you’re wearing and tell their coworker how to locate you. It’s subtle, elegant, and personal.
There’s no interaction, if you prefer. You can even buy many items directly on your iPhone with Apple Pay, using a self-checkout.
There’s no paper if you prefer. You can have your receipt emailed to you.
There’s no plastic bags (soon…)
There’s no “waiting list” – you sign up on line, or in person, and you reserve your time. Apple is removing everything that isn’t essential to you having an excellent time in their store. And they do more business per square foot of retail space than almost any company in business.
What are you removing from your store or business that’s getting in the way of your customers loving your brand?