updated 05:30 pm EST, Mon November 26, 2007
Apple retail overhaul
Apple has been progressively changing its retail store format over the past year, eliminating cash registers while introducing several new services and increased staffing, to create a more personalized and friendly environment for customers. The recently introduced concierge service directs customers to whatever section of the store they wish to browse, as well as connecting customers with their appointed personal shopper or trainer. Several employees will wander around, entertaining simple questions, and carry around a portable scanner, ready to ring through any purchases that customers may have. Receipts are instantly emailed to the customer, and a paper version can be obtained from store staff.
Removing the registers in each of the stores has granted additional space for Apple's retail services, extending the Genius bar in most cases from 11 feet to an average of 35 feet.
Apple wants to maintain a casual feel in the stores, something that is reflected by its customers as they browse, use internet, or bringing their children in to play at the low-legged tables. "We try to pattern the feeling to a 5-star hotel," said Apple's retail chief, Ron Johnson. "It's not about selling. It's about creating a place where you belong."
The company's retail stores have been instrumental in Apple's gain in marketshare, accounting for 473,000 Mac sales during the fourth quarter for 2007.