Along with many others, I am a self-confessed "political junkie" so sometimes during the weekend I watch many of the political talk shows. While channel surfing a while back, I accidentally happened upon a show that speaks to another interest of mine: technology. The name of the show is called "Press Here." The show always has interesting insights into technology as well as the latest happenings. This weekend I learned something fascinating. The highly touted Apple retail stores that Steve Jobs pioneered are the most successful enterprise in terms of retail sales relative to the space they occupy. The show today had a guest on who revealed the key to the "secret sauce:" emotions! In his estimation, it's critical that the customer make an emotional connection to the product whether they purchase something or not. The whole store is geared around making sure this happens down to the finest detail like making sure that all of the open laptops are not sitting at the stereotypic 90 degree angles but open just slightly wider. Why? Well, for one thing the hardware looks nicer that way but the real reason is that it forces the consumer to touch the product in order to adjust it. In the world according to Jobs, touching the product is the first necessary, essential step to making a purchase. However, whether you spend money or not, Apple wants you to do 2 things: feel good about your shopping experience & interact with the products. Also because employees are not paid on commission they are focused on addressing real customer needs so if someone comes prepared to spend three thousand dollars on a laptop but if their "geniuses [known as customer service to the rest of us] discover that they only want a system for light usage, they will suggest a much cheaper product because the customer will more likely feel better about their shopping experience.
Other Stores Are Catching Up
After seeing how well this all worked for Apple, other stores are now modeling their shops in the same ways. After all, as the saying goes, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" & in business if you are smart, you don't waste time & money "re-creating the wheel!" Now one would think the model wouldn't apply to all kinds of products. Not true. Although my strategy wasn't nearly as well conceived as Apple's, I used to live a "double life" indulging my passion-Italian wine & cheese which I sold on the weekends. I had a reputation for moving a lot of product but never because I strong-armed a customer but in retrospect, I see that I very much enabled them to make emotional connections to the products by sampling & helping them see how a given item could be applied to their specific need. It was a combination of sensory satisfaction [because of the quality of the product] as well as emotional connection. For anyone in retail, this really IS the "secret sauce!"