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The secrets of Apple’s retail success


Apple’s retail stores have grown into a multi-million dollar business due to its strict employee guidelines and thoughtful attention to minute details like the music used on demo machines. The Wall Street Journal took a close look at Apple’s retail operations and identified the secret sauce that has led to the company’s retail success.

These closely-guarded methods include:

  • Strict control over its employees: Apple employees are not allowed to discuss rumors with customers and technicians are not allowed to mention any glitches. If you are caught writing about the company on the Internet, you will be fired. Tardiness is not tolerated and employees who are six minutes late to work more than three times in six months can be let go.
  • An emphasis on customer satisfaction, not sales numbers, that is spelled out with the acronym APPLE.
    • Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome
    • Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs
    • Present a solution for the customer to take home today
    • Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns
    • End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.
  • As part of this APPLE approach, technicians are urged to listen to customers and respond with assurances that you understand their needs. Salespeople are encouraged to find solutions for customers and not just make a sale. They are not allowed to correct a customer’s mispronunciation. New employees also undergo a rigorous training and mentoring process that can take weeks to complete.
  • Retail pay starts at US$9-$15 per hour for sales staff and up to $30 per hour for Genius employees. A move from retail to corporate is rare and many employees leave when they realize they can’t advance up the ladder.
  • Though there are no sales quotas or commissions, Apple employees are encouraged to sell service packages. If they don’t sell enough care plans, they will be re-trained or moved to another position within the store.

These key components and more have joined to create a unique experience that draws millions of customers through Apple’s retail stores each quarter.

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