Apple Store is a relatively new introduction in modern retailing business. It deals essentially on Apple TVs, computers, software, iPods, iPhones, and other related consumer electronics. As the name implies, it is owned and ran by Apple Inc.
There are currently, (i.e. as at June 1, 2009), some two hundred and fifty Apple Stores worldwide. Overwhelming majority (more than two hundred) are located in the United States. About twenty-five Apple Stores are in Europe: including three in Switzerland, (where I live). Nine shops are currently in Canada; whereas there are eight in Asia, (seven of them in Japan alone, and only one in China).
Although I am a big electronics fan, my daily computer needs mostly revolve around PCs and Servers. I am particularly in love with scalable Server solutions: especially the Enterprise software from Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, IBM, and HP. My multimedia horizon is Adobe (including the Macromedia staples, which it swallowed-up in late 2005). However, when my equally tech-savvy pal took me to one of the Apple Stores here in Switzerland, I could not help feeling amazed. The shop was wonderfully arranged, sparkling clean, and the adoring services rendered ensured that I would make a return trip much sooner than later. We were cordially treated, despite the fact that we only went there to enquire about third-party accessories (and did not buy a single item).
The perpetually-smiling receptionist we met was eager to show us around: introducing us to an in-house presentation theatre, an undemarcated workshop alley, a so-called genius bar, and an ultra-modern interactive studio. She explained that the studio is intended for both pre- and post-purchase training with various Apple products. She also informed us that the "genius bar" was designed exclusively for hands-on technical support and product repairs. I came out of the place feeling: ‘Wow! They've got it'.
My trip and good experiences at the Apple Store saw me foraging online later that night: in a bid to unearth more and learn more about the unique idea behind it. I appreciate their business sense and candor, and would be interested to attend one of their seminars (whose previous media adverts I had faithfully ignored in the past).
Following my private research and online enquiries, I was able to discover that the first Apple Store was in fact, opened on May 19, 2001 in the U.S. This was eight long years before I even walked into one! I also learnt that the affable Apple Inc. CEO, Steve Jobs, had his vision on using these stores to make a statement. He had planned to create an interactive marketplace, which will give value and satisfaction to all clients, without draining their pockets. I couldn't help feeling good about this insight, although I secretly deplored the fact that only three of these shops serve the entire Swiss market (at the moment). Even as I marvel at the Store here in Zurich, my friend quickly informed me that the biggest and the most sophisticated of all Apple Stores is located at number 235 Regent Street, London (England).
As someone whose sense of purchase is predominantly value-for-money oriented, I could not stop wondering about the motives behind the design and sophistication of Apple Stores. Their wares are no pricier than they are in any other supermarket or departmental stores, but the flair and the air around theirs make a welcomed addition. The settings even look more like an amiable Rendezvous than a traditional retail outlet. And the services are so wonderful!
I have always appreciated cleverly designed outposts; and have loved almost every detail I read from "Designing The World's Best Supermarkets" by Martin Pegler (ISBN: 1-58471-025-X), but Apple has shown that it plans to revolutionize shopping: as we know it. It is on a new level altogether!
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