When I think back over the years, I can remember countless technology-focused brick-and-mortar stores I enjoyed shopping at. From CompUSA to Circuit City to the ridiculous number of other stores that came and went, there was a time when a large portion of my life was spent shopping in the brick-and-mortar.
[Image credit: Trey Ratcliff]
Nowadays, there’s only one brick-and-mortar electronics store I visit on a regular basis: the Apple Store. As for Best Buy? Well, I see no reason to go there, and judging by the company’s recent disappointing quarters, it appears many folks agree.
But I’ll take it one step further. At some point in the next several years, Best Buy will fail just as the many companies that came before it have. And Apple Stores will be the only electronics store left standing.
Now, I’m sure there are some of you who will say that retailers like Best Buy need to exist. You might reason that many folks still need to head to retail stores to research products or get accessories when in a pinch. But with Amazon and others shipping products to homes in just a day and the ability to return those products without any financial recourse, I’m not so sure I agree with that logic.
Others might question why I believe Apple Stores will succeed where other companies are destined to fail. It’s simple: Apple’s retail stores offer a different, more-rewarding experience.
Whenever you go to an Apple Store, you’re immediately welcomed to a different environment. You have the ability to surf the Web, check your e-mail, or quickly charge your iPhone without worry of the salespeople stopping you. And if at that point you decide to walk out the door without even considering buying something, that’s just fine.
What’s more, the stores double as technical support locations, educational areas for those who are new to Apple products, and even fun places to bring the kids to try out the iPod Touch. Apple’s stores are about an experience — not just shopping.
Beyond that, I think Apple’s success will only further the company’s chances of succeeding in the brick-and-mortar. Consumers want to use the firm’s products, and they want to try them out as soon as they’re announced. There’s also a camaraderie that develops each year when consumers wait in line for hours just to be among the first people to have an iPhone or iPad.
Apple’s stores are, well, special.
So, as the chorus of critics who say that brick-and-mortar electronics stores will eventually die grows louder, it’s important to point out that Apple won’t be one of the victims.
You cay say what you want about Apple and what its current success represents to the industry, but if there’s one thing you can’t say about the iPhone maker, it’s that it doesn’t understand retail. As the last few years have shown, Apple understands it quite well. And the company will for the foreseeable future.