A Business 2.0 article penned by Bob Parks looks at the success of Apple’s own retail stores, focusing on the company’s SoHo location in New York City. Offering some positive comments and gentle criticisms is Envirosell CEO and “retail design guru” Paco Underhill.
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The article says that Apple CEO Steve Jobs spends half a day each week with a 20-member design team, “hashing out tweak after tweak” in each of the retail stores. In one session, the group agonized over three types of lighting to get iMacs to shine like they do in glossy ads.
Though the stores are a bit of a risk — since May 2001, Apple has pumped over US$200 million into the stores –the retail shops show “impressive signs of life,” the article adds. For instance, during Apple’s most recent quarter, they generated 10 percent of the company’s $1.5 billion in revenue. Even with high rents in shopping districts in Boston, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, the outlets lost just $22 million in 2002 and are on a break-even pace for 2003.
Underhill offers up his thoughts on Apple’s retail stores, mainly the SOHO shop in New York City. He looks at the floor design, signage, theater, and more. Overall his comments are positive, but he does serve up some suggestions for improvements, such as a sign that screams “in stock now” so people will know they’re in a retail store and a concession stand-coffee bar addition.