This is surely the ultimate modern enterprise, entirely focussed on technology and the internet, and also has a very limited range of products. So few would have predicted it would go on to build a global chain of bricks-and-mortar stores simply to sell their own brand. Fewer still would have predicted it would go on to become perhaps the most admired retailer of the times.
Over the last fifteen years, from a standing start, that’s exactly what Apple have achieved, with probably the most successful retail launch of all time.
Until they opened their own stores, they were limited to selling products through concessions in big box computer retailers and department stores. That gave Apple little control over how their products were presented and their precious brand image was in the hands of others at the point of sale.
Now with their brilliantly designed stores, located in city centres, shopping centres and major high streets, Apple has the ability to create an all-embracing ‘Apple’ experience, controlling every aspect of the brand’s presentation.
The colour scheme, the glass and chrome staircases, the minimal furniture, the lighting, the immaculate oak floors, all embody the same brand values experienced with their high-tech products, the website, the packaging and all other customer touchpoints.
It’s no accident that everything hangs together so beautifully. Long before the first Apple’ store opened an actual-size mock-up was developed and created in a warehouse and tested for months with the same meticulous attention to detail that they apply to their products.
But, you don’t need to be a multi-billion-dollar company to employ the Apple philosophy. Any retailer, in any product sector can adopt the same approach to the way they plan and present their retail space.
So, what makes a difference? Well here’s a few thoughts and opinions from brand and retail experts...
‘As customers’ needs and desires change, it’s critical that retailers develop formats and environments that can adapt and develop quickly and efficiently. So the old adage of “Less is More" is never more true. Less complexity, less components, less versions of the truth enable retailers to deliver change in a rollable and scalable way.
It should be part of any organisation’s DNA.
Change can be expensive and time-consuming. The best retail environments provide the opportunity to make change, keep fresh and present and merchandise products efficiently and effectively.’
Phil D’Souza - Head of Merchandising
‘Having effective Visual Merchandising is critical, product ranges essentially need to be shown in an inspirational way with creative displays of new and everyday products placed carefully to catch the eye and simulate the customers’ imagination. To convert those sales it must be coupled with an easy transaction and a staff member who cares i.e. systems, staff and displays all working to create a satisfying purchasing experience which the customer will want to repeat.’
Paul Rogers - Norman Piette
‘Successful brands and retailers are organisations that align their focus, energy and retail executions on their ‘shopper’- not always the consumer! The use of ‘live’ instore insight helps drive a deeper understanding of shoppers’ needs, wants and expectations and leads to optimum experience & sales at the point of purchase. The optimal brand / retail performance is achieved through the convergence of 3 key components, being Access (how easy is it for us as shoppers do what they need to do?), Function (does ‘it’ do what we want it to do?) and Emotion (how does it make us feel). Only when all 3 components are delivered together at that moment of truth is the best Shopper Experience achieved.’
Guy Vaughan & Roger Smith - Grounded Shopper
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