6 lessons Apple retail taught the industry in 2001

Apple opened its first Apple retail stores 20 years ago on May 19, 2001 — and soon became one of the most successful retailers in the world — at least, it was in the time before COVID-19.

What Apple did with retail

“The Apple stores offer an amazing new way to buy a computer,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Rather than just hear about megahertz and megabytes, customers can now learn and experience the things they can actually do with a computer, like make movies, burn custom music CDs, and publish their digital photos on a personal website.”

As ever with Jobs, he told the truth. These weren’t computer retailers in the conventional sense. That wasn’t what Apple wanted to achieve.

These shops provided experiences designed to reinforce the significance of its products. A lot of Windows users bought their first Macs there.

I can still recall critics who thought Apple’s decision to launch its own chain of retail stores was doomed to fail. “I give them two years before they’re turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake,” then-president of Channel Marketing Corp. David Goldstein said at the time.

That wasn’t the smartest call

Instead, the chain became a retail success story, generating more profit per square foot than anywhere else and attracting thousands of daily visitors before the pandemic last year.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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