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Apple rethinking mini retail store strategy

post #1 of 18
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Apple Computer is said to be experiencing difficulties with its initial batch of mini retail stores and may be forced to rearrange or put on hold future plans for the scaled-down retail format.

Following a high-profile launch of its first six mini stores last October, Apple went on to add three additional locations by the close of the year. But since opening its ninth mini store at the Saint Louis Galleria on December 18th, 2004, the company has yet to launch any additional stores based on the format.

While rumors indicate the mini format may be suffering for a variety of pitfalls, sources recently told AppleInsider the most prominent issues ironically stem from a lack of storage, display and inventory capacity in the tiny stores, which are only several hundred square feet.

As a result, some mini stores have had to resort to the painstaking process of convincing customers to place orders online from the stores in order to receive products that are not stocked, or are out of stock, at the stores. Sources say these issues have lead Apple to focus the majority of its future retail efforts on larger store formats, which are rumored to be more profitable per square foot.

Apple's original mini store design has also been plagued by some aesthetic issues. Specifically, the bright-white epoxy flooring used in some of the mini stores quickly proved to be prone to scuff marks, dirt and debris, which combined to degrade the clean appearance of the stores. The stainless steel siding used in the stores is also expensive to manufacture and import from Japan.

In July, Apple replaced the white epoxy flooring at its Stanford, Calif. mini store with a granite stone flooring and also added a centralized display counter to broaden its product offerings. Plans to extend similar renovations to its other mini stores were said to be in the works, but are now rumored to have been placed on hold while Apple reevaluates the mini store format.

According to ifoAppleStore, a website which closely follows Apple's retail initiative, the company had started on plans to open three additional mini stores located in Hingham, Mass., Los Angeles, Calif., and Chicago. However, sources say Apple may have recently decided not to peruse at least one of these one of the future locations due to the ongoing performance concerns associated with the stores.

Upon the launch of the first mini stores, many Apple followers held high hopes that the kiosk-style boutiques would allow the company to expand into non-traditional markets. At the time Apple Retail vice president Ron Johnson hinted that the mini stores were prime candidates to open shop at airports, where customers could buy iPods and accessories on the fly.

Further reports hinted that Apple in 2005 would open mini stores in England, Scotland, and on several US college campuses. So far non such store openings have been announced.
post #2 of 18
This is the kind of hard-hitting and timely journalism that keeps me coming back for more.
HA!
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HA!
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post #3 of 18
Quote:
Originally posted by aimakesmeyawn
This is the kind of hard-hitting and timely journalism that keeps me coming back for more.

It is interesting though. Not everything a news site prints is Watergate level news. The small things round out the picture.

For example, this tells us that the stores aren't in trouble because people aren't coming there and aren't buying. You might think that if you just read somewhere that "Apple Closes Mini Stores - Idea a Failure!".

Instead we learn that they are too small. They are actually getting more business than they can handle. This means that Apple might have to find a way to open larger stores in some of these locations to be able to handle the traffic.

That's not good to know?
post #4 of 18
Quote:
Originally posted by AppleInsider

Apple's original mini store design has also been plagued by some aesthetic issues. Specifically, the bright-white epoxy flooring used in some of the mini stores quickly proved to be prone to scuff marks, dirt and debris, which combined to degrade the clean appearance of the stores. The stainless steel siding used in the stores is also expensive to manufacture and import from Japan.

OMG, the floor has iPod-itus!
You can't quantify how much I don't care -- Bob Kevoian of the Bob and Tom Show.
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You can't quantify how much I don't care -- Bob Kevoian of the Bob and Tom Show.
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post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally posted by a_greer
OMG, the floor has iPod-itus!

lol
post #6 of 18
The Apple store in Stanford mall smelled like bleach, it seemed like there was no ventilation, and the store was simply not as appealing as the larger store in downtown Palo Alto. The bleach could have been because of the white floor they had, so I'm really glad that they replaced it. I havn't seen it since, but I'll check it out again some time.
post #7 of 18
There is one simple reason why they are doing poorly: Misrepresentation.

About three times already I have gone down to the Apple store after they have "launched" a product only to be told they wont have the product for weeks. This pisses customers off. I'd much rather wait a couple of weeks to hear about a product and be able to go out and buy the product then hear about it in advance (who cares?!?!) and not be able to buy it. And I'm not the only one to complain about this.

Apple shoots itself in the foot by pissing its customers off. And thats assuming you're near an Apple Retail Store. If you're only near a general computer store carrying apple products forget about it, youll have to wait even longer. Tack on small storage space to this logic and you've just shot two bullets into your own foot.

They deserve it. Next time wait until you can actually supply the demand then let us know.
post #8 of 18
Chicago, Ohio? I doubt customers will find this store.
post #9 of 18
It's hard to understand that Apple can have some very strong successes in the larger stores and be fighting some battles in the small ones. It simply takes time to work out what is needed in terms of size and inventory levels. Overall Apple is doing a very good job in the retail area and I have no doubts that tghey will work out things at the smaller level.
Ken
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Ken
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post #10 of 18
Interesting article. However, what happened to the "automatic check-out" registers where you check out your own items and pay for them, without even the need of a store employee to help you? Was that discontinued?

Seems to me these stores have been prototypes in the first place, to try out new things. College stores are a great idea though, especially if they can offer the 5% discount right there, as the online education store.
post #11 of 18
They're pulling the ministores and replacing them with nanostores.
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally posted by macFanDave
They're pulling the ministores and replacing them with nanostores.

You mean, with NO stock, and people can only look in the window?
post #13 of 18
...actually I think the next item in the rollout is the ShuffleStore, where you only get to see what you bought after you've paid for it and brought it home. Life is random, y'know.
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally posted by melgross
You mean, with NO stock, and people can only look in the window?

Did you just describe the website?

Qo'noS: lol
Daniel Tull
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Daniel Tull
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post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally posted by danielctull
Did you just describe the website?

Qo'noS: lol

I didn't think so, but now that you mention it...
post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally posted by vikingstad
Interesting article. However, what happened to the "automatic check-out" registers where you check out your own items and pay for them, without even the need of a store employee to help you? Was that discontinued?

Maybe people weren't paying...shrug...meh

I do like the colleg store idea though...that could be wildly successful...throw in a genius bar too...
My computer can beat up your computer.
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My computer can beat up your computer.
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post #17 of 18
Storage and inventory space can he worked around. Other retailers nearby probably have space they'd rent. Display space is an issue calling for Jonathan Ives input. What he did with ipods and G5, he can do working with architects.
Problem solved. Next.
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally posted by Benton
Storage and inventory space can he worked around. Other retailers nearby probably have space they'd rent. Display space is an issue calling for Jonathan Ives input. What he did with ipods and G5, he can do working with architects.
Problem solved. Next.

Yea! It's that simple.
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