When Steve Jobs opened the first Apple stores more than a decade ago, many thought he would fail.
Jobs’ strategy broke some of the basic tenants of the retail industry, writes Belinda Lacks at Bloomberg Businessweek.
Today, Apple is the most profitable retail chain per square foot.
Here are some of the rules Apple broke — and why the chain was able to succeed anyway.
1. Apple didn’t test a prototype in a target market.
Traditionally, retailers put store prototypes in their core markets to see how they fare. But Steve Jobs tested stores in Japan before opening the first Apple store in Virginia. He reportedly did this to avoid the scrutiny of the American press.
2. Apple didn’t utilise more-established partners.
Before Apple stores opened, CompUSA offered a deal to install mini-stores with the brand’s products. But Steve Jobs shut this program down because he believed CompUSA was a failing business. Instead, he struck out on his own. This approach paid off — CompUSA was indeed on the way out.
3. Apple didn’t stay consistent.
Steve Jobs was a perfectionist, so he was constantly changing the look of his stores. “Those rectilinear wooden tables didn’t appear until the second generation (or vintage, as the versions are known as internally); originally, the desktop and laptop computers sat on kidney-shaped white tables, which worked well for the candy-coloured iMacs but not when the product line turned white,” Lacks writes. Having flexibility helped perfect the Apple store model.
Apple’s success shows that it’s not always necessary to follow the rules.
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