Apple is getting aggressive with its retail strategy, opening a new store on New York's Upper West Side this weekend and planning 40 to 50 new stores in 2010. The first 2,500 visitors to the new store will receive a limited edition, commemorative T-shirt.
Apple's latest Manhattan Apple Store is located at 67th Street, just minutes from Lincoln Center and Central Park. The store features an all-glass arched roof on the outside, and more Macs, iPods and iPhones than any store in the world. The store showcases a 45-foot Genius Bar on the lower level for personal training and technical support.
"We opened our first store in Manhattan seven years ago, and the response has been incredible," said Ron Johnson, Apple's senior vice president of retail. "We hope our new store on the Upper West Side will become as much a part of the community as our stores in SoHo, the Meatpacking District, and on Fifth Avenue."
The Apple Experience
Apple will employ more than 200 people at its Upper West Side site. All are trained to offer free advice and expert tech support to consumers. Alternatively, customers who buy a Mac there can join the One to One program for $99 and get personal set-up service and training.
Just in time for the holiday shopping season, store visitors can get free tips from Apple specialists to help find the best product for themselves or someone else. Shoppers can also reserve an Apple product online and pick it up at any Apple store Dec. 15-24. Apple will even gift wrap any iPod or portable Mac for $5.
The Apple Store Upper West Side is the company's fourth in Manhattan and Apple's 15th in the New York metro area. Apple also has stores in SoHo, West 14th Street, and Fifth Avenue. In all, Apple now operates 280 stores in 10 countries, including the U.S., United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Canada, Japan, China, Switzerland, Germany and France. Nearly 170 million people on four continents have visited Apple retail stores this year.
Refining the Model
At the store launch, Apple announced it will open between 40 and 50 retail stores in 2010. More than 50 percent of the new sites will be outside the United States, with specific plans for two stores in Shanghai and one each in Paris and London.
Michael Gartenberg, a vice president at Interpret, remembers when analysts were predicting Apple would turn out the lights in its stores. Now, he said, the Apple retail experience has not only become a benchmark for technology retail -- it's become a benchmark for retail, period.
"Apple sees this economy as an opportunity to pick up properties on the cheap and really double down the efforts with extended growth," Gartenberg said. "The lesson here is that even in tough economic times if you offer a quality product and a quality experience to learn about the product, to purchase the product, and to get support on the product, consumers will come."
Gartenberg expects to see thousands of people standing in line on the Upper West Side to get into the Apple Store on Saturday morning. He said it's part of the experience Apple has worked to build for more than a decade.
"Apple has made sure that the store experience is as smooth and simple as possible and it's something they've refined," Gartenberg said. "It's not a model they've just replicated over 10 years. They've continued to refine the model to improve the experience for the customer."