Ron Johnson Says People Come to Apple For The Experience

by

ronjohnsonRon Johnson, the architect behind the Apple Retail Stores, has moved on to be CEO of JC Penney. But, he still remembers the lessons he learned while at Apple.

Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Johnson reflects on what makes the Apple Store unique:

People come to the Apple Store for the experience — and they're willing to pay a premium for that. There are lots of components to that experience, but maybe the most important — and this is something that can translate to any retailer — is that the staff isn't focused on selling stuff, it's focused on building relationships and trying to make people's lives better. That may sound hokey, but it's true. 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. Their job is to figure out what you need and help you get it, even if it's a product Apple doesn't carry. Compare that with other retailers where the emphasis is on cross-selling and upselling and, basically, encouraging customers to buy more, even if they don't want or need it. That doesn't enrich their lives, and it doesn't deepen the retailer's relationship with them. It just makes their wallets lighter.

Perhaps as a hint toward the direction he intends to take JC Penney, Johnson ends by noting that "the retailers that win the future are the ones that start from scratch and figure out how to create fundamentally new types of value for customers."

Top Rated Comments

room237 Avatar
120 months ago
Now, it's up to you whether or not you want to just do the bare
minimum. Well, like Brian, for example, has 37 pieces of flair. And a
terrific smile.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cubedweller Avatar
120 months ago
not entirely true.. Apple up sells as well.. they have always tried to get me to purchase AppleCare with every product I've purchased.. same was true with the old MobileMe..
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Vol7ron Avatar
120 months ago
that's true...I remember working back at CompUSSR that the mentality there was to cross sell and up sell. If a person only wanted a laptop or desktop and nothing else, no printer, software, cables, service plan, etc. to get them to leave the store - They didn't want their business. They only wanted the multi orders with service plans that brought them in lots of cash. I hated doing that to customers. After asking them if they wanted a service plan 3 times and having the Tech manager try to convince them of the same thing, most customers would just leave, frustrated and go across to Best Buy. Guess we know why CompUSA went out of business....

At Apple, it is great. They don't pressure you into anything. If you want something, they give it to you. If you don't want something, they don't heckle you 18 times before they get the picture....
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
vrDrew Avatar
120 months ago
Apple retails stores have, by a quite comfortable margin, the highest per-square-foot sales of any company in the retail industry.

They must be doing something right, and that includes probably more than just having good products.

For everyone complaining about getting cross-sold AppleCare, there's somebody else raving about how he or she just picked up a second (or third) MacBook "with no questions asked" I'm personally not a big fan of any "extended warranty" program - but they do serve to give people who need it some sort of peace of mind. Apple would be remiss if they didn't have store employees at least mention it. There is a definite line between explaining a products' features, and badgering a customer - and I think in most cases Apple Store employees stay on the right side of it.

I rarely pass an Apple Store without at least ducking inside, even if I've no intention of buying anything. I'm not ashamed to say that I frequently use the in-store wi-fi to send e-mails, or use one of the display units to browse the web. I'm sure *some* people take advantage of Apple's policy - but they are far outweighed by the positive relationship it builds with people.

One thing I've noticed about Apple Stores: There always seems to be a positive energy going on. On a Tuesday morning, in the middle of a recession, the store is filled with people tapping away at iMacs and iPads, grooving to the iPods and snapping pictures with the iPhones.

I can't imagine Microsoft, let alone Google or Samsung, being able to pull off that kind of trick. Even if they hired Jonny Ive to design their products, they'd still find a way to dork up the retail experience.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rdowns Avatar
120 months ago
I recall threads here on the pressure for Apple sales reps to "attach" AppleCare, One-to-One and MobileMe (formerly) so I call Bravo Sierra.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sternfalter Avatar
120 months ago
Love not being hounded
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

lg wing

LG Considering Exit From Smartphone Business, Halts LCD Production for iPhone

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:38 am PST by
LG is considering exiting the smartphone business entirely amid declining shipments and accrued losses of $4.5 billion over the past five years (via The Korea Herald). LG CEO Kwon Bong-Seok cautioned staff earlier today that the company is re-evaluating its presence in the smartphone industry: Since the competition in the global market for mobile devices is getting fiercer, it is about...
google maps detailed street level e1611052089473

Google Maps Gains Enhanced Street-Level Detail in Four Major Cities

Tuesday January 19, 2021 2:34 am PST by
Google Maps has quietly been updated to include significantly more detailed street-level information in a handful of key cities around the world. Upon zooming in, Google's maps for Central London, Tokyo, San Francisco, and New York now benefit from shapes and widths that match the scale of roads more accurately. Meanwhile, enhanced graphical representations of sidewalks, crosswalks,...
2019 mac pro side and front

Tim Cook Gifted Donald Trump 'First' 2019 Mac Pro

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:45 pm PST by
Apple CEO Tim Cook gifted former United States President Donald Trump with the first 2019 Mac Pro that came off of the assembly line in Austin, Texas, according to a financial disclosure report that was released today (via The Verge). "Mac Pro Computer, the first created at the Flex Factory in Austin, Texas," reads the entry, which values the machine at $5,999, the base price for a Mac Pro....
airpods max sim ejector

AirPods Max Headband Removable With Just a SIM Ejector Tool, Hinting at Interchangeable Headbands

Tuesday January 19, 2021 8:25 am PST by
It is possible to remove the headband of AirPods Max with just a standard SIM card ejector tool, hinting at the possibility of interchanging headbands to achieve a different colorway. Image via Prelook In December, MacRumors revealed the large variety of AirPods Max ear cushion color combinations when it became clear that they were magnetically attatched and available for sale separately....
iphone 5s black slate

Images of Unreleased iPhone 5s in Black and Slate Shared Online

Sunday January 17, 2021 9:47 am PST by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today shared images of a prototype iPhone 5s in an unreleased Black and Slate color. The iPhone 5s was launched in September 2013. The device featured Touch ID, a 64-bit processor, and a True Tone LED flash for the first time. Other new features included a five-element lens with an f/2.2 aperture, a 15 percent larger camera sensor, Burst Mode, and Slo-Mo...
iphone 12 vs iphone 12 mini

Apple Shifting Some Production From iPhone 12 mini to iPhone 12 Pro to Meet Demand

Wednesday January 20, 2021 8:12 am PST by
Apple has reportedly cut production of the iPhone 12 mini by two million units to create more manufacturing capacity for the iPhone 12 Pro, according to a new Morgan Stanley investment note seen by PED30. Apple is believed to have made the switch for the first quarter of 2021 in an effort to combat continuing lead times for the more popular iPhone 12 Pro. iPhone 12 Pro lead times remain ...
Apple VR Feature

Bloomberg: Apple's First AR/VR Headset 'Pricey, Niche Precursor' to More Ambitious AR Glasses and Could Launch Next Year

Thursday January 21, 2021 3:27 am PST by
Apple's first virtual reality headset will be a "pricey, niche precursor" to a more ambitious augmented reality product, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. As a mostly virtual reality device, it will display an all-encompassing 3-D digital environment for gaming, watching video and communicating. AR functionality, the ability to overlay images and information over a view...
shot on iphone 12 apple

Apple Highlights Photos Shot by iPhone 12 Users: Portraits, Cityscapes, and More

Tuesday January 19, 2021 6:05 am PST by
Apple today shared a gallery of photos shot by customers using the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max, with scenes including cityscapes, landscapes, portraits of people, and more at day and night. Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by "NKCHU" in China (top) and shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by Rohit Vohra in India (bottom) iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 models have a dual camera ...
Apple and Hyundai feature

Apple Car Production Again Linked to Kia Motor's US Plant in Georgia

Tuesday January 19, 2021 4:19 am PST by
Hyundai intends to transition the company's Apple Car involvement to its Kia brand as part of an internal arrangement that could see production move to the U.S., according to a new report today. On Sunday, Korea IT News reported that Apple and Hyundai are seeking a partnership agreement for the upcoming Apple Car by March, and that the electric vehicles could be made at a Georgia factory...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature

iPhone 13 Rumored to Feature Smaller Notch, Pro Model Cameras to Use Larger Image Sensor

Thursday January 21, 2021 1:38 am PST by
Apple's iPhone 13 series will feature a redesigned Face ID system that will allow for a smaller notch at the top of the screen, according to a new report today. The rumor comes via hit-and-miss Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes, whose supply chain sources also claim that the ultra wide-angle lens in Apple's next-generation iPhones is due for an upgrade. The next-generation iPhones'...