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Apple Sets the Bar for Showcase Stores and Super-Merchandisers, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

A few unique retailers have created the category of “super-merchandisers.”  They invest huge amounts of money on the construction of unique and entertaining stores where they devote large portions of floor spaces to non-retail purposes, either for ambiance and style or for demonstrations and practice areas for their products.  These types of stores typically offer very deep merchandise selections while they cater to customers who are very passionate about a particular interest, hobby or shopping need.  The focus is on an immersive customer experience.  A good example is Bass Pro Shops, which are vast complexes filled with exciting displays of the latest hunting, camping, fishing and outdoor merchandise.
Such stores are staffed with the most qualified people available, people who are knowledgeable about the products and the use of them.  Apple may well run the ultimate showcase stores based on the long lines of customers waiting to get in at almost any hour of the day or night.
Apple reaps its amazing sales by offering shoppers a unique experience in a carefully designed environment.  The sleek, high-tech look of Apple products such as iPads and Macs are echoed in hip, modern spaces that are free of clutter.  Apple’s New York City store on Fifth Avenue, for example, features a two-story glass cube at the entrance, from which customers go below ground into the store.
Products are displayed in ways that highlight usage and invite shoppers to experiment.  Technical support is available at Apple’s Genius Bars where highly trained technicians handle product demonstrations, troubleshooting and on-site repairs.  One to One sessions help clients set up their new computers, phones or music players including transferring files from old equipment along with tutoring on device features.  Free workshops are offered on everything from digital photos to music to video to business systems.  Staff must go through rigorous interview and training programs to teach them to solve customers’ problems instead of merely selling them merchandise.  Positions are highly coveted and must be earned.  
Apple store layouts are carefully designed.  The “red zone” area closest to the door features the latest products and, during new product launches, staff members gather there to applaud and cheer customers leaving the store with their new purchases.  Children’s play areas allow parents to shop elsewhere in the store without distraction while the kids are busy with games and educational software.  Cash registers are being phased out and replaced with iPod Touches that staff use anywhere in the stores to read credit cards or remotely open hidden registers for a cash transaction.  Apple had 528 stores in 26 countries and regions as of December 2023, which collectively draw more than 1 million visitors each day.

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