Apple Store FTW


by Samuel Greengard

Woody Allen once said that 80 percent of success is showing up. That may be so but I'm also convinced that in the business world there's a huge gap between showing up and thriving.

Showing up: Best Buy

Thriving: Apple Store

I realize that these are two very different companies. Apple manufacturers and sells its own products and Best Buy carries products from a seemingly endless array of manufacturers. Apple controls the supply chain, Best Buy does not.

But there's something more going on here. Step into a Best Buy store and you feel like you're trapped in a glitzy version of a 1960s appliance store. You know, the one with everything lined up neatly along long aisles. And good luck hunting down a knowledgeable salesperson. Heck, I've even resorted to going online with my iPhone because there's no in-store kiosk to pull up technical specs. The entire shopping experience can be summed up as "functional" tilting toward boring.

Step into an Apple store and you feel like a kid at Disneyland. Not only are Apple products elegant, you're encouraged to touch and play. What's more, even though a typical store is as packed as the New York subway at rush hour, you can usually find a knowledgeable salesperson to help you. There are no cash registers and checkout lines. Employees carry mobile POS terminals. And then there's the Genius Bar. You sit at a stool and chat with a technician as he or she examines your machine and diagnoses the problem. In the end, Apple uses technology and remarkably innovative business processes to create a very rich and human experience. You almost feel like your tech-savvy Uncle Ernie is helping you out.

Apple understands a few basic concepts that 98 percent of the business world doesn't grasp.

1. People want the option of human interaction. 2. People want to have fun shopping. 3. People want to have a smooth and flawless shopping experience, and the technology that makes it happen should never get in the way.

I'm not suggesting the entire business world should copy Apple. Or that Apple is perfect. I am suggesting that if businesses, and particularly retailers, adhered to these three simple rules they'd come a lot closer to thriving rather than merely surviving.