Apple Stores reportedly continue to see cutbacks as focus shifts to revenue

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A report on Monday outlines the supposed gradual but significant change Apple's retail stores are going through as Senior Vice President of Retail John Browett emphasizes revenue over customer experience.

Citing inside sources, ifoAppleStore reports that signs persist of an emphasis on revenues at Apple's retail outlets, saying the drive to profits is taking its toll on employees and could tarnish the chain's reputation.

The report comes after retail chief John Browett allegedly laid off a significant number of recently-hired staff, cut back working hours for part-timers and put a freeze on inter-store transfers in order to boost profit margins. In a subsequent investigative piece by The Wall Street Journal, Browett claimed the staffing changes were a "mistake," noting that the actions had been reversed. He then reportedly requested leadership teams tell employees "we messed up," stressing that there were no layoffs taking place and new hires were being made.

According to the unnamed sources, the employees who had been "dismissed" were rehired and transfers resumed, though some locations still have no in-store workshops, offer limited overtime and haven't yet reversed demotions.

Browett supposedly has yet to apologize for the "mistake," and has instead reportedly instructed employees not to discuss the matter. Morale has declined, according to one insider, due to lack of information, inability to discuss the situation and increased pressure to sell product.

Sources say employee performance is measured by metrics, including contract sales of iPhones and a program called "essentials per hero product," which weighs in the amount of value-added merchandise like accessories a salesperson moves. Staff has also reportedly been advised to urge customers to use the EasyPay app, however sales made through the program aren't credited to a specialist's sales history which relates directly with performance.

Apple Store Staff


Perhaps even more of a problem are alleged cuts to maintenance budgets, which could affect the trademark cleanliness of Apple Store floorspace and product displays. Also reportedly cut are select training areas and Red Zone displays, to be replaced by more "Etc." and accessory shelving.

While it is unclear how widespread the changes are, or if they even officially exist, sources claim there has been a definite emphasis on revenue since Browett took over for former retail head Ron Johnson in January.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 152
    technotechno Posts: 705member


    If I see a box of Ginger Snaps on the shelf, I will know things have digressed.

  • Reply 2 of 152


    I was in an Apple store today and they wouldn't give me a free replacement on my Macbook Pro battery, which was so swollen that the trackpad doesn't even work anymore. Yes, it's out of warranty, but it's also a massive fire hazard and has the risk of exploding. (It still holds a charge just fine, it just doesn't fit in the case anymore.) How long until there are more batteries bursting into flames on airplanes because Apple is too cheap to offer replacements. And this is after I already shelled out ~$80 to buy a new power cord within the last couple months because that too had become completely frayed and was also a fire hazard.


     


    What's more, I tried to report the swelling issue on their 800 number since it's a serious safety hazard, and they wouldn't even file a report.

  • Reply 3 of 152


    I don't think this new guy gets it:  Apple doesn't just sell a product, it sells a great customer experience.  Everybody at that company knows that is how it works, and it is amazing that they are letting this guy go forward with this plan.  Maybe they are a little overcrowded (I've felt the opposite most of the time) with employees, but Apple has made a lot of money primarily by focusing on the experience and not the bottom line.

  • Reply 4 of 152


    Time sell Apple stock. Apple is now toast. 


     


    Whose fault is it? Tim Cook. 

  • Reply 5 of 152
    kpomkpom Posts: 617member


    Things are going to be different whenever there is a change in CEO, and whenever there is a change in a significant position such as SVP of retail. We may just be hearing from some disgruntled employees, which there always are. The thing to remember is that Ron Johnson wasn't pushed out. A CEO position became available, and he jumped at the chance (although he's finding things difficult at JC Penney). 


     


    Like it or not 2012 is very different from 2001, and the goals of the stores are evolving. Before we all cry wolf, let's see what happens. For all the positives of the Johnson era, the Apple Stores always did have a circus-like atmosphere where it could be difficult for someone looking to purchase an accessory or non-iOS device. Things may just be a bit more obvious now that a new SVP is doing what all new SVPs do and establishing himself.

  • Reply 6 of 152


    Revenues over customer happiness? Unacceptable for Apple. Apple should not be following the formula set by the failing big box stores.

  • Reply 7 of 152
    sricesrice Posts: 114member


    This sure doesn't sound promising.  I bought an iPad as a gift for my mother about two weeks ago and the Genius I was dealing with pulled a BestBuy sales routine to push Applecare down my throat.  I did not appreciate it -- and thought to myself that it felt like the guy was on commission.  I do not want to deal with commissioned/quota'd sales people when I visit an Apple store.

  • Reply 7 of 152
    kpomkpom Posts: 617member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by waldobushman View Post


    Time sell Apple stock. Apple is now toast. 


     


    Whose fault is it? Tim Cook. 



     


    Tim Cook is no John Sculley. Some things will undoubtedly be different, but on the whole he's been doing a good job. They scored a big win on Friday in court. They launched the new iPad, and for the first time in years they had enough supply to match demand. They released Mountain Lion on schedule, and look to have a great new iPhone in the wings.

  • Reply 9 of 152
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,687member


    Apple could easily get rid of a certain percentage of their retail staff. There's way too many of them whenever I visit any Apple store. 


     


    Look at that picture above, that's from the Grand central store I believe. The amount of employees is ridiculous, Apple should lay off at least 25% of them.

  • Reply 10 of 152


    New guy seems to have a Best Buy mentality, hoping Tim Cook wises  up soon

  • Reply 11 of 152

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by KPOM View Post


     


    Tim Cook is no John Sculley. Some things will undoubtedly be different, but on the whole he's been doing a good job. They scored a big win on Friday in court. They launched the new iPad, and for the first time in years they had enough supply to match demand. They released Mountain Lion on schedule, and look to have a great new iPhone in the wings.



     


    The things you mentioned are not really related to the core advantage of Apple - a premium brand. The cutbacks in service will undoubtly affect the brand image, which is a lot more important than let's say whether they release product on schedule or with enough supply. Note that I don't mind cutting back staffs if there's way too many of them, but definitely not sacrificing service for revenue.

  • Reply 12 of 152
    aaarrrggghaaarrrgggh Posts: 1,582member
    It really sounds more like sour grapes trolling than real issues at this point.

    As for easy pay vs associate sale, that is a good distinction and not really a conflict: sales associates should have a higher mean revenue per transaction than easy pay. You can't just buy a Mac with EasyPay...

    That said... I really don't like the twerp and will be happy if he is booted before his options vest.
  • Reply 13 of 152
    mytdavemytdave Posts: 438member


    I think this new SVP is dangerous.  I'll reserve judgement for a while though, and observe conditions myself when I go visit some Apple stores...


     


    I would hate to think someone at Apple would even consider revenue over customer experience.  Apple's hallmark is customer experience in absolutely every thing they do/make, and they've made mountains of money because of it.  To consider a move in the other direction is suicide.  "Revenue first" is the death knell of any technology company ever created.  The planet is littered with the corpses of companies that either never understood or lapsed in the departments of quality and customer experience.  Apple once flirted with this stupid idea before, and it nearly killed them.  I pray they don't repeat.

  • Reply 14 of 152
    Don't Apple Stores already have some of the highest revenues per square foot among ALL retailers?
  • Reply 15 of 152
    doh123doh123 Posts: 323member


    I still don't know why they hired someone to put in charge thats done nothing but run retail businesses into the ground and made then &$*#&.

  • Reply 16 of 152


    Think Different.  This is what they're doing.

  • Reply 17 of 152

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Srice View Post


    This sure doesn't sound promising.  I bought an iPad as a gift for my mother about two weeks ago and the Genius I was dealing with pulled a BestBuy sales routine to push Applecare down my throat.  I did not appreciate it -- and thought to myself that it felt like the guy was on commission.  I do not want to deal with commissioned/quota'd sales people when I visit an Apple store.



     


    To be fair, that would have been my strong recommendation as well, and I'm not trying to sell you anything.  Maybe the Genius has see how many iPads come back damaged, and for the $100 you know that there's no problem with repairs for the foreseeable future.  I personally wouldn't buy an iPad without AppleCare, just like I wouldn't buy a Mac without AppleCare.  Accessories and smaller items are fine without it, yes, but anything $400 it's worth it for the peace of mind.


     


    This is all to say that it may not be as calculated or cynical as you think.

  • Reply 18 of 152


    Anyone from the UK who has shopped in the stores this ass has managed, will know how  familiar this sounds. 


     


    Apple : Get rid of John Browett ASAP.  He is everything you are not.

  • Reply 19 of 152


    Nope, the new guy doesn't get it.  And neither does the person that hired him.  It's just one more little thing since Steve died. Sam Walton ran a tight ship just like Steve. When Sam died, the whole company went to hell.  When was the last time an employee greeted you or smiled at Walmart?


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by priced4evil View Post


    I don't think this new guy gets it:  Apple doesn't just sell a product, it sells a great customer experience.  Everybody at that company knows that is how it works, and it is amazing that they are letting this guy go forward with this plan.  Maybe they are a little overcrowded (I've felt the opposite most of the time) with employees, but Apple has made a lot of money primarily by focusing on the experience and not the bottom line.


  • Reply 20 of 152


    Hard to believe the story as Tim Cook is a big believer in customer service. Also why would this new gut try to spoil whats working so well???


    Have no fear I'm sure that if the story is true than Tim Cook is watching over this guy. He just didn't give this guy a free hand. You can be sure of that.

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