back to article Apple's former retail boss spills magic beans on store strategy

Apple doesn't just construct retail stores it brews a magical experience that transforms your very existence, or so said Ron Johnson, former retail veep at the firm. Did someone say ahem...bullshit? No of course not. The man - now CEO at loss-making J.C. Penny - gave an insight into the cerebral workings of an Apple exec …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More marketing bullplop

    Oooo we build communities. No mate. You sell shiny crap to people with more money than brains.

    1. the-it-slayer

      Re: More marketing bullplop

      Or people who actually understand Apple products are worth their premium price. Not everyone can justify it, fair enough. Not everyone likes OS X, fair enough. But to put your silly bias opinion to think Mac's are shiny crap is silly. I'll just pat you on the head and ask you to calm down. Might make El Reg a better place.

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    All will be well

    > coming into the Genius bar

    Just as long as you don't come IN the Genius bar.

  3. Haku

    "magical experience that transforms your very existence"

    Yep, Apple is definitely a cult.

    Closed off products, white steel & glass 'churches' in cities and towns across the globe, millions of followers who say their lives would be meaningless without their products and will empty their wallets for those products at the drop of a hat (or opening of an envelope), and the leader was renound for wearing a black turtle neck sweater and going onto a big stage every so often to show his latest tablescraps for his minions to worship.

    And just look at the cult compound / walled garden / office they plan to actually build:

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Closed off products"?

      Yes, the App Store is certainly a walled garden that Microsoft is falling over itself in its eagerness to embrace. But in terms of being open, standards-compliant, and easy to port your own applications to, OSX is miles ahead of the byzantine OS that is Windows. My smartphone may run Android, but I'll stick with Linux and OSX for my desktop.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He may talk b*ll*cks....

    ... but the store certainly appear to shift plenty of boxes.


  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The stores definitely transform my existence

    As soon as I walk into one, I start to feel the almost overpowering urge to vomit

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The stores definitely transform my existence

      Why do you go in then?

      1. mhenriday

        Re: «Why do you go in then ?»

        Technical aid for bulimics : one doesn't have to stick one's finger in one's throat after gorging....


  6. Alan Denman

    Ron's the man.

    "we view our space as the environment we inhabit"

    Apple inhabit the space between peoples ears.

    As Apple are also fond of white space, Ron's the man.

  7. Oninoshiko
    Thumb Up

    I dare say

    If apple found out tomorrow that concrete domes made punters buy more tat at a higher premium, their architectural choices would be slightly different.

    "shedloads of cash," indeed.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I remember the first time I saw an apple store. I heard all this clapping and applause and was wondering what was going on. As I continued walking round the shopping centre I discovered that it was "geniuses" clapping applauding at every idiot that walked in. What kind of sad life must you live that you need to be cheered on to walk into a shop. F^&*ing idiots

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      do you know? the only time I have seen this was when a new Apple store opened near me.

      As for the last four years, the staff are too busy dealing with customers to have the time the clap.

  9. W.O.Frobozz
    Thumb Down

    That's funny

    My reaction to a store that calls it's salespeople "Geniuses" is to flash my middle finger and keep walking. Nothing magical about that.

    1. Ivan Headache

      Re: That's funny

      That's very funny as only a few of them are called Geniuses.

      Apply for a job in an Apple store and look at what is offered.

  10. Narg

    Apple Store's Stink

    I've been in an Apple store 3 times. All 3 times have been big dissapointments. I seriously don't see how these excuses for retail help Apple in any way.

    1. Michael Thibault

      Re: Apple Store's Stinking

      IOW, you pretend you can't see how the stores contribute to Apple's bottom line. Bullshit posturing, I think.

    2. k9gardner

      Re: Apple Store's Stink

      This has to be one of the most ridiculous comments I've ever seen. It's like saying "I seriously don't see how these excuses for tires help Ford in any way." They're where the rubber meets the road, baby. That's where it's at. They're a shiny showcase, giving the touchy-feely experience to all who want to buy.

  11. Sean Timarco Baggaley

    Gosh, that's a lot of cynicism you lot have.

    Apple sell consumer electronics. Hardware. Computer-based appliances. That's all they do.

    Everything else they do is marketing. It really is that simple, people. Those Apple Stores are literally just interactive advertisements you can walk right into. That they also have shop-like properties is a side-effect, not the primary intent. Their primary purpose is to make you go "Oooh! Shiny!" and step inside.

    The store's employees don't pressure you into buying something: they're much more subtle than that. They'll show you what the magic boxes can do. This is a much more compelling argument for making a purchasing decision than any number of bullet-point lists on the side of a box, or printed on a label next to a demo laptop that hasn't even been plugged in. (Yes, PC World / Comet / etc., I'm looking at you.)

    This isn't a 'religious cult', though some of the underlying psychology and cognitive science applications are related to those used (often unintentionally) by many major religions: People like to 'belong'; we're an inherently tribal species. That's why we have Linux fanatics, Android fanatics, Windows fanatics (yes, they do exist), Apple fans, and so on. It's also why there are people who will literally smash chairs over anyone who claims their favourite football team is, in any way, not up to scratch.

    There are textbooks explaining all of this stuff. It's not art. It's science. Supermarkets have been applying psychology and cognitive science to their businesses for decades and it's just as subtle as Apple's approach.

    But what truly amazes me is that so few people can see this. Apple haven't become such a massive success solely because of what they've done. Their success is also due, in large part, to what their competitors haven't done.

  12. Alan Denman

    re - "But what truly amazes me is that so few people can see this."

    It's called growing up.

    And its a grown up thing to let things be.

  13. Phormic

    Or maybe...

    It's always fascinating to read the rational and well studied reasons for Apple's success by the Register's brains trust. "It's a cult", "it's just marketing" and other knee jerk reasons suggesting that Apple's success is an aberration and one day very soon, the world will wake up from their zombie-like trance and come to realise that poor designed, poorly made and difficult to use consumer electronics, that offer no customer support, are if fact what they really wanted after all.

    There is indeed delusion at work here but it doesn't live in Apple stores.

    1. Darryl

      Re: There is indeed delusion at work here but it doesn't live in Apple stores.

      Evidently not - seems like it's alive and well in people who think that everything in the world that doesn't have the magical fruit logo on it is 'poor designed, poorly made and difficult to use consumer electronics, that offer no customer support'.

      It's comments like that that cement the perception of Apple fans as some sort of strange cult.

      1. Michael Thibault

        Re: There is indeed delusion at work here

        Knee. Jerk. Jerk. Knee.

      2. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        Re: There is indeed delusion at work here but it doesn't live in Apple stores.

        Apple have consistently beaten their competitors in customer satisfaction ratings. This is incontrovertible fact. There are any number of independent sources for this. Feel free to check the internet if you don't believe me.

        There was a time when Sony used to do great design too, but they seem to have thrown in the towel of late and have lost their self-confidence. (Sony even have their own branded stores. Apple were not the first.)

        Sony used to be a luxury brand, but they've lost a lot of their cachet in recent years and seem to have suffered from a lot of poor management over that time.

        Apple look good today only because their competitors have set the bar so low. Greatness is relative.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Apple's glass-fronted stores are things of beauty compared to other retail outlets"

    This "fact" needs to be justified! How?

    Aren't most Mall stores glass fronted?

    The Slackle store in the mall in my hometown is glass fronted with the odd bit of POS.

    Guess what?

    The neighbouring stores are also glass fronted, with POS and promotional material in it.

    So why do you imbue Slackle stores with this nonsense?

    1. chr0m4t1c

      Depends on the location. Not all Apple stores are in malls and not all malls have floor to ceiling glass in their stores (like Apple prefer to do). So sometimes Apple stores stand out a lot from their neighbours and sometimes they don't.

      What they do tend to have is space, even when busy you can usually walk around them quite easily, whereas most technology stores I've visited barely have room for one person between some of the aisles, let alone space for you to get passed someone else.

      Couple that space with the (often over-bright) lighting and the light colours used throughout the store you get a feeling of a light and airy, certainly compared with other retail stores.

      This is purely a personal observation and does vary depending on the local area, some stores hardly stand out at all.

  15. k9gardner

    Not getting it

    What a ridiculous comment this writer makes. If you don't get it by now, you never will. Enjoy your Blackberry, or whatever other semblance of phone+apps you may use. Life is short; live it as you wish.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I like their stores

    Well, us Belgians do not merit a real Apple store, but we have premium resellers.

    When I decided I may want to buy an iPad I went to their store. I was half expecting desinterested spotty yoofs, like the sales people you get in Mediamarkt, Saturn, FNAC (and things like Dixons i visite when I was in the uK)and other stores that sell electronics, the sort that don't really know what you're asking and know even less about the products they earn their crust with.

    I was pleasantly surprised to find a store where everything was not only in stock bur available for actual physical contact (the products, people), the sales guy knew the differences between the models, knew what they did and what they didn't and how they worked together with other stuff. He even let le eat my icecream while he was explaining to me.

    I don't know what monetary value I should put on the environment and how it equates to the price of the product, but I was happy that at least my mood didn't get totally ruined because I happened to need an electronics device.

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