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Customer interaction strategy for retail

There’s a great article in the current version of HBR with Ron Johnson (the guy who came up with the Apple Stores) on how retailers should be thinking. The conventional wisdom is all doom and gloom – everyone will buy everything online and stores will die (I exaggerate, but you get the point). Ron’s insights and in particular his way of thinking is refreshing. Some titbits:

  • Online retail is just 9% of total retail and is growing at 10% a year. In other words, physical stores will be around.
  • Each store associate at Apple has to go through 6-8 interviews before getting a job. Wow. Compare that to the associates at Best Buy.
  • When coming up with the Apple Store, Ron didn’t tweak the existing model. They completely re-thought the whole idea; in essence, they applied Blue Ocean Strategy concepts to understand what the customer experience was and what it should be.

The part that I loved the best was the comment about how all department stores look and feel the same because they’re all run by people who’s strength is analytics, not intuition. i.e. They all buy the same products, from the same suppliers ending up with an experience that completely non-differentiated.

Well worth a read, especially if you’re in any aspect of customer facing strategy or retail. Email me if you need the article.

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