Today, the Harvard Business Review published a blog post by Ron Johnson, CEO of J.C. Penney and former senior VP for retail at Apple.
Johnson writes that since recently announcing he was taking on the role of J.C. Penney CEO earlier this month, he's heard the media saying the Apple Store succeeded because it carries Apple products and caters to an already loyal customer base.
"Well, yes, Apple products do pull people into stores," he writes. "But you don't need to stock iPads to create an irresistible retail environment. You have to create a store that's more than a store to people."
Some highlights from Johnson's post:
- People can buy Apple products elsewhere, often at a discounted price. Why do they go out of their way to shop at the Apple Store and pay full price?
- Consumers are willing to pay a premium for a good experience.
- Big factor to the Apple Store experience: "Staff isn't focused on selling stuff; it's focused on buildling relationships and trying to make people's lives better."
- Sounds hokey? "The staff is exceptionally well trained, and they're not on commission, so it makes no difference to them if they sell you an expensive new computer or help you make your old one run better so you're happy with it."
- The challenge for retailers: Not how to imitate the Apple Store, but how to "reinvent the store to enrich customers' lives."
- "Each retailer will need to find its own formula... to create fundamentally new types of value for customers."