Apple’s lessons for food retailers

May 23, 2011

Customer service and design differentiate stores – none more than Apple, posting $4,406 in sales per square foot.

Apple is a sensation for many reasons.  

Food retailers could benefit by looking beyond Apple’s gorgeous product designs and innovative technologies that provide exclusive reasons to buy the brand.

They’d find lessons in how Apple connects with its markets and helps customers achieve goals. They’d understand how Apple has monumentally quashed doubters who felt a technology company couldn’t succeed with retail stores.

Service and design differentiate Apple stores, and make customers feel good to go and stay there. At The Lempert Report, we think supermarkets could correlate what Apple does with their own business – and vastly improve shopper experiences without compromising their high-volume operational needs.

Consider these elements:

  • Apple store design is low profile and high visibility. Customers can see much on display at a glance. They also see staffers connecting with customers, leading instructional classes and demonstrating products.
  • Apple has a Genius Bar, where technical questions get answered.
  • Apple, for a fee, offers lessons online and live to make customers more facile with their products and services. This leads to greater involvement and eventually to product replacement and renewal.
  • Customers are assisted in order of their arrival, rather than who’s loudest.
  • Apple store employees are empowered with mobile technology to help customers where they are in the store – likely at a product they’re buying – rather than force them into lines.
  • Apple store employees can check people out expediently, so they can leave as soon as their transaction is done.
  • Apple store employees help people out to their cars with heavy packages.
  • Apple hires workers who sincerely believe in the brand, are trained well to know the products and listen intently to customer questions. Staffers aren’t embarrassed to go to colleagues for a better answer if they think one is available. This enthusiasm is infectious, and customer treatment is respectful.

These steps are effective. Apple sales per square foot reached $4,406 in 2010, Needham & Co. analyst Charles Wolf told USA Today.  Supermarkets could draw strength from some of the highly appealing foods they sell, and enjoy some of this same juice.