If Apple is a religion, then Apple stores are the temple. Business Week has a question-and-answer session with Paco Underhill about his opinions of the Apple Store. Apple understands the need to improve the retail experience. By providing a controlled retail experience, Apple has given it’s customers and potential customers a positive environment to interact and explore the newest Apple equipment. The retail store supports Apple’s online store but allowing customers to explore, touch, feel, experience Apple. Online shopping supports different customer goals than retail shopping. By understanding the goals of customers Apple has developed both a retail and an online presence that helps meet new customer goals.
Apple has focused on advertising to new Apple owners and Windows users, the Switch campaign, they have realized that most Mac users own multiple Apple machines. The needs of these customers are very different than potential Apple owners. Offering software upgrades, access to Mac Experts, and upgrades/add-ons, Apple is working on creating an experience to meet the needs of it’s existing customers.
As Dr. Underhill notes Apple can improve their retail experience by understanding their customer demographics and by observing their behaviour.
“Part of what I said is that they need to sit on a skateboard and look at the store from a vantage point of a baby stroller or a five-year-old.”
Customer observation can improve both the Apple Store experience but also how customers integrate the Online Store and Retail Store in their shopping behaviour. Apple is working to understand their multi-channel customer service.
Paco Underhill’s book Why We Buy is now available in paperback. It is mandatory reading for anyone developing customer experiences. It provides tools, techniques and vignettes about the value of customer observation in the improvement of the shopping experience.