Why Apple Stores Work: The Inside Story

October 31, 2007, 12:44 PM UTC

Ever wonder why the staff at Apple (AAPL) retail stores is so effective at moving the merchandise? Alex Frankel has some answers. He took a leaf from Barbara Ehrenreich’s
Nickel and Dimed
and spent two years working undercover in entry level jobs at a series of national chains, among them UPS (UPS), the Gap (GPS), the Container Store, Home Depot (HD), Starbucks (SBUX) and finally Apple.

The result is a book called
Punching In: The Unauthorized Adventures of a Frontline Employee.
It’s due out from Harper Collins Nov. 20, but from the taste of it published in Fast Company, it’s clear he rates Apple above the rest.

A sampler:

Once on staff, I learned the difference between a gigahertz and a gigabyte, but more important, I saw that, like the iPod’s user interface, training of Apple Store employees has been carefully designed. A series of podcasts I listened to and watched showed that selling was all about the approach. I shadowed other workers as they executed the company’s three-step sales process. They explained to customers that they had some questions to understand their needs, got permission to fire away, and then kept digging to ascertain which products would be best. Position, permission, probe.

All this sets the employee’s on-the-job attitude. At an Apple Store, workers don’t seem to be selling (or working) too hard, just hanging out and dispensing information. And that moves a ridiculous amount of goods: Apple employees help sell $4,000 worth of product per square foot per month. When employees become sharers of information, instead of sellers of products, customers respond…. (link)