Everyone has an opinion when it comes to retail shopping. Retail shopping is three dimensional these days thanks to the Internet. The old days of jumping in the car and heading to a mall are over for a lot of folks, according to P3Executive Consulting founder, Susan McGalla. Consumers are shopping online more now than ever before, and the big brick and mortar store executives are scratching their heads while they try to compete. But there is one company that is not being bullied by Amazon and other online retailers. Apple has taken the retail business by storm, and no one expected them to do that, according to McGalla.
McGalla, the former CEO of Wet Seal and the current director of planning for the Pittsburgh Steelers, said that most of the retail experts didn’t think Apple would survive in a brick and mortar retail environment when they launched their first store in 2001. Most of the experts confused their feelings about Apple with the numbers. In 2001, Apple only had a 3 percent market share. Gateway closed their retail operation back then because they couldn’t make money, and Dell was on fire because of their price points and the company’s willingness to work on lower margins, according to McGalla.
The analysts told Steve Jobs that Apple retail stores would fail because of those reasons, and the fact that Apple’s prices were higher than the rest of the computer market. The experts’ predicted gloom and doom for Apple retail, but the opposite has happened. Apple retail is one of the most successful, if not the most successful, retail operations in the world.
McGalla ran the numbers and today 50,000 people work in Apple retail stores. Those employees help more than a million customers a day in the 450 Apple Stores worldwide. Apple Stores produce more revenue per square foot than any other retailer including Walmart. In fact, there’s no contest, according to McGalla.
There are not many major retail success stories to share these days, but Apple Stores prove that anything is possible in the retail business. McGalla credits Apple’s interesting in-store sales approach for some of the success. Apple has a lot of people on the floor in those stores, and they are all knowledgeable. Well-trained sales personnel helps reduce some of the congestion that develops at key hours of the day in the stores.
Ms. McGalla also thinks the layout of the well-lit stores, and the merchandise display cases help generate more sales. Consumers are able to touch and use the Apple item they want to buy before they purchase it. Most retailers don’t offer that service, and McGalla thinks that has to change if they want to stay in business.
Other retailers are studying Apple’s retail approach, and some retailers have made some changes, but the big discount chains are having a hard time making that kind of transition. .