Apple will continue its gradual takeover of New York City next Friday, December 9, when it opens its new store, right in the heart of Grand Central Station. The store will be Apple’s biggest to date, and will be the fifth in New York City. As a result, it will cost Apple over 1 million dollars in rent each year for the traffic-heavy space, which 750,000 people pass each day.
Apple’s other stores have been successful in New York in a time when many stores have had major trouble staying afloat. With this massive sum of money being paid to open the new shop, Apple is continuing its commitment to having physical places where people can buy their products, as opposed to buying it all online. Apple’s digital products are one of the reasons why some of the notorious New York stores have closed in recent years. The rise of the iPod and iTunes music sales in the early part of the 2000s was a big reason why Tower Records, a prominent media seller and New York staple, closed in 2006 after over 20 years in the city. Along with Apple’s music sales, the digitization of books being read on e-readers like the Kindle spelled the death of Borders, just as the Apple’s tablet, the iPad, was coming along. Yet, despite these closings, Apple is successfully opening expensive new stores regularly. What are they doing to make these stores work that other companies weren’t?
The Apple Experience
More than anything else, Apple is selling an image in their stores. Very clean, efficient, and futuristic looking, Apple stores can look like the inside of the USS Enterprise. By simply and brightly displaying its products in pleasing ways to the eye, Apple is conveying that the future has arrived, and that these are the products that have summoned it. These devices will be the ones used in the upcoming years, and Apple is the place to get them. Relaying that message is a whole lot more valuable than a stack of 9 dollar calendars near a check-out desk.
Keep the Small Stuff at Home
While Tower and Borders sold countless numbers of items in their stores, many of which came cheaply, Apple hasn’t bothered trying to find a creative way to sell small items like iTunes music and movies in their stores. Apple stores sell expensive items like iPads and MacBooks that people may want to see in person before committing to a purchase. Apple has believed that people are more willing to spend money on cheaper items online than the more expensive ones, and seeing and holding a pricey product before buying it is still important. Devoting floor space to items that can easily be bought online wouldn’t make sense.
One to One
In all Apple stores, One to One memberships are sold, which are basically initiations into the Apple fraternity. With a one year membership, which costs 99 dollars, customers can have any of their old files, Mac or PC, transferred to their new device right away. They can also set up Mac training sessions with an Apple employee, giving them a full uninterrupted hour to learn all things Mac. For the rest of the year, members can come by the Apple stores and get help using their Mac in the many different ways they can be used, including film editing and sound mixing. By training customers in become Apple experts at a relatively low price, Apple stores aren’t just helping out their customers, but they’re insuring that they become Apple customers for life. Users wouldn’t want this new knowledge to go to waste, so they’ll continue to buy Apple products.
The Geniuses Have Taken Over
The Genius Bar in each Apple store is a smart way for people to get answers for why their Apple products aren’t working. People can make appointments for an in-person Genius appointment online, so the Genius Bar can work as a doctor’s office for the tech world. There may be lines to get an appointment right away, but going to the Genius Bar remains a cut-and-dry way to get malfunctioning products diagnosed, and, like One to One, it allows Apple to hold onto customers by ensuring their products are functioning at their best. Plus, increased foot traffic at the Genius Bar means that more people look at the products that Apple is selling.
By creating more and more of these stores, Apple is paying homage to the stores that have left us, in a way. Apple clearly still believes in the value of having a store where people can interact with each other and buy products, which is refreshing as a skyrocketing amount of our purchases are made online. But instead of using the stores to sell items in ways that have failed other companies (and some rivals), Apple is maintaining their image as the place to be in the technology world, even if it’s in a physical space. As another marquee store opens, the plan is working.