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Getting to the Core of Apple

BY CSA STAFF

Apple runs a really tight ship. That’s the takeaway of a recent Wall Street Journal article that used confidential Apple store training materials and interviews with current and former store associates to provide a behind-the-scenes look at the tech-giant’s store operations. Among the interesting details: Apple’s annual retail sales per square foot stand at an astounding $4,406.

Here are some other interesting insights from the article:

  • Steve Jobs is deeply involved in the details of Apple’s retail stores, down to the kind of security cables used to hold products to the display tables.
  • The company details its “steps of service” in an acronym, APPLE, that starts with “Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome,” and concludes with “End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.”
  • It’s not easy getting a job at Apple — it usually requires at least two rounds of interviewing.
  • Sales associates are paid anywhere from $9 to $15 per hour. “Genius Bar” staffers receive up to around $30 per hour.
  • Apple frowns on the hard sell. Employees are trained to demonstrate products and help solve customers’ problems rather than sell products.
  • Employees don’t work on commission or have quotas to meet, but selling service plans is a must. Those who don’t ring up enough in this regard, are either re-trained or given a different job.
  • Apple provides lots of training to sales associates. Once on the floor, new hires trail more seasoned associates and are not allowed to interact with shoppers on their own until they are given the green light.
  • Associates must stay positive. Genius Bar staffers, for example, are trained not to use negative language. When they can’t solve a technical issue, they are suppose to say, “as it turns out” instead of “unfortunately,” which sounds more negative.
  • Employees who are six minutes late three times in six months may lose their job.
  • Employees are not allowed to discuss rumors about upcoming new products or to acknowledge any product glitches, however widespread. Any employee caught writing about Apple is fired.

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Congratulations rue21!

BY CSA STAFF

Teen apparel retailer rue21 is celebrating the opening of its 700th store, in New Braunfels, Texas. The chain is on track to open 110 locations this year.

Commented president and CEO Bob Fisch: “We remain one of the fastest growing retailers in the nation. I would like to thank our real estate, construction and field teams and recognize their hard work, which allows us to celebrate another significant milestone for rue21."

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Consumers still concerned over state of economy, turn to Internet for deals

BY CSA STAFF

CHICAGO — Concerns over the health of the economy are far from over, as evidenced by a SymphonyIRI Group survey released Wednesday that found consumers are taking even more steps to save money due to their ongoing financial concerns, including turning to the Internet in search of the best deals.

List making and coupon clipping are still top of mind for consumers as they struggle with high gas prices and question their job stability. Additionally, the survey uncovered that consumers are turning to the Internet to find the best deals, SymphonyIRI said.

"Consumers are feeling bumps in the road as the country continues to strive towards an economic recovery,” said Susan Viamari, editor of Times & Trends at SymphonyIRI. "Americans are still leery about their job stability and are finding it necessary to save even more money as they face uncertain times. To keep abreast of ever-changing consumer mindsets, SymphonyIRI will continue to track shopper behavior trends as well as research new and emerging trends, such as the digital media trends, we are closely examining in our new Point of View [report].”

Statistics from SymphonyIRI’s MarketPulse survey for second quarter 2011, which builds on the findings from first quarter 2011, reinforce the fact that even though the Great Recession officially ended a full year ago, consumers are continuing to spend cautiously due to feelings of uncertainty about their economic futures. Findings included:

  • 1-in-3 consumers expect their financial position will deteriorate in the coming year, and one-half of consumers anticipate no change in their finances during this timeframe;

  • More than half of consumers expect the cost of daily living to rise, including food (70%), utilities (62%) and gasoline (58%); and

  • 18% think their job stability will deteriorate in the coming year.

From the Internet and blogs to in-store digital touch screens and smartphones, consumers are leveraging digital media to find the best deals. And 8% of consumers are using the Internet to make lists, SymphonyIRI found.

“Since there is an ‘app’ for everything in today’s world, [consumer packaged goods] retailers and manufacturers must stay ahead of the digital curve to meet shoppers’ needs,” said Srishti Gupta, EVP emerging media solutions at SymphonyIRI. “Our new point of view, ‘Digital Dimension,’ explores the latest digital media trends and provides important insights for CPG marketers looking to capitalize on digital opportunities, as understanding adoption and usage nuances is critical to maximizing marketing opportunity in this space.”

“For instance, mid- to upper-income households (earning $55,000-$99,000 annually) use the Internet more than most other consumer segments for various day-to-day activities, yet the wealthiest shoppers (earning more than $100,000 annually) are slightly behind this segment,” Gupta said. “The mid- to upper-income segment has higher broadband, as well a larger number of devices, such as laptops and smartphones, at their fingertips. The wealthiest shoppers, a segment which skews a bit older, has not yet embraced digital coupons with the same fervor, so their usage is not quite as high.”

The free Point of View report, “Digital Dimension: Consumers Embrace Digital Media with Diverse Approaches,” can be downloaded here.

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