The stores have been performing extraordinarily well despite various other options, including online stores, being available to customers, which in some cases even offer products at a cheaper price.
Apple’s former retail chief, Ron Johnson, recently spoke with Fortune at length about his job at Apple, and what he intends to do as CEO to grow JC Penny.
In the interview, he explains the charm of Apple Stores and why many people still prefer to shop for their gadgets over there, rather than ordering online:
You can get every Apple product every day cheaper at Amazon, many times elsewhere. But people come to the store, and that’s because the store offers something people need, which is really help and support and connecting, because I think there’s always been this idea in a high tech world, people really strive for high touch.
If you really look at what happens at an Apple store, it’s connections happening. It’s a genius with a person trying to solve a problem. It’s someone getting personal training. It’s someone getting their products set up before they leave the store. It’s someone learning about something that might change their life.
You know, so there’s these connections that are really necessary in a digital world, you know, because you want that offset of the physical world. You want that physical experience.
So people, as easy as an Apple product is designed to be, they hesitate to start using it. So obviously there was a gap there. There was an intimidation, as easy as it might be, because most people aren’t that tech savvy.
So we said what if we could set up every product in ten minutes before they left the store, and they were using that product, falling in love with that product before they left? That would be transformational.
So we did that, and then 90 percent of the products were set up. That was an insight that really made the Apple store relevant, versus buying online.
Analysis done by Horace Dediu of Asymco.com reveals that Apple’s retail stores perform 17 times better than the average American retail store.
Johnson left for JC Penny late last year to take up the position of CEO and turn the struggling retail chain’s fortunes around. His position of SVP, retail, at Apple was filled in by John Browett.
Here’s the whole interview video, embedded below:
For the entire transcript of the interview, head over to Fortune.