One of the first places I went in New York after checking into the hotel was the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue. I had been looking forward to it for a very long time, and as I wrote that night, I was not disappointed. Sharon and I spent some time wandering around before I bought my iPod touch. The whole experience was really good, save for the cashier not knowing what to do with my Canadian debit card.
I’m not the only one who has been impressed with Apple’s retail experience this year.
Apple now derives 20 percent of its revenue from its physical stores. And the number is growing. In the fourth quarter in 2007, which ended Sept. 30, Apple reported that the retail stores accounted for $1.25 billion of Apple’s $6.2 billion in revenues, a 42 percent increase over the fourth quarter in 2006.
Not only has the company made many of its stores feel like gathering places, but the bright lights and equally bright acoustics create a buzz that makes customers feel more like they are at an event than a retail store.
In a way, I think Apple is "Starbucking" the technology retail experience. More than coffee, Starbucks offers a place to be. By allowing customers to sit and play with iPods and MacBooks, Apple is doing the same thing – selling community. The key phrase from above is "feel like gathering places".
Trust me, once you’ve been to an Apple store you’ll start wishing every retail experience could be so good.
It’s just too bad there aren’t more of them.