I wrote the article a while back and thought it was as relevant as ever since Circuit City has been forced to call it quits.
It's no accident that Apple has been doing so well lately. Sure, they have their little thing called the iPhone, and a couple other things called the iPod, and the Macbook. But how do they get their merchandise to the people? One big part of Apple's success is the Apple store.
According to "Inside Apple stores, a certain aura enchants the faithful", from CNET.com, the Apple stores account for over 20% of its revenue, and it's growing. There's a reason for this growth. Walk in an Apple store and you'll see why.
During the Industrial Revolution, many died from their stays in the hospital. Due to the lack of knowledge about bacteria, patients who went in for surgery often died from the infections that followed. The rich often had doctors come to their home to perform any necessary surgery. It can be said that the last place you wanted to be when you were sick was the hospital. This can be translated to today's shopping at traditional brick and mortar stores for computers.
It seems more and more lately that the last place you want to be if you have serious questions about computers or other electronics are the traditional brick and mortar stores (I'm winking at you Circuit City and Best Buy). I often feel sorry for customers in the computer areas of these stores asking questions about the computers in stock. The ignorant computer shopper is usually at the mercy of someone who generally has a bit more knowledge about computers than they do--if that. From what I've seen and experienced, these employees often defer to someone else who acts like they know more, when in reality they don't know anything more about the computer in question. If you want to talk to someone about computers or printers, like the Industrial Revolution and hospitals, don't go to a large brick and mortar store like Circuit City or Best Buy.
This is why Apple stores are cool. Upon walking in your greeted by a clearly marked employee. There's no chance of having to search out someone for help, they are usually just a few feet away. Apple employees cover the place like ants on a spilled soda. You certainly don't feel like you're on your own in these stores.
Apple employees know their product, and if they're not sure about a piece of software or hardware, they will quickly get a manager to help you out (which happened to me once). And the thing is, they generally don't walk away from you in order to search out someone who might know about a particular product. They get on their nifty little headset and ask the question, and get an immediate response which is routed right to the customer.
In an Apple store, you're encouraged to ask questions. If you have a question about your Mac at home, simply drop in for advice. At many other stores (wink wink Circuit City) you feel like the employees are dodging you and you have to chase them down to get some help. Apple employees truly feel a passion about their product and, from my experience, want to talk to you about it.
Again, iMac and Macbook sales are on the rise, and this is no accident. Walk into an Apple store and you'll quickly see why you don't have to worry about a trip to an Industrial Revolution era hospital.