In the day and age of self-checkouts and growing consumer tech awareness, I could see why Browett might think excess staffing was no longer needed. There are plenty of Apple faithful who can get themselves in and out of a store without help from a staff member. But according to the latest quarterly report from Apple, nearly 50 percent of the Apple Stores customers are still new to the Mac. And until that number starts dropping with any sort of rapidity, those people are who the staff is there to help.
The Apple Stores arent perfect as-is, and I can understand the new senior vice president of retail wanting to put his own mark on them. But to do that, you have to understand what the Apple Stores are. You cant cut free workshops and push paid services that will give customers more information: These customers may not even be 100 percent convinced they want a Mac or an iPad in the first place, and to tell them theyll only be able to get on solid footing if they pay an extra hundred dollars is a good way to say goodbye to not only their business, but that of their friends and family as well.
Its possible the reports are a misunderstanding, and that the changes were indeed, a mistake. It does make sense to pilot potential changes over the summer, wedged as it is between launches of iPads, Macs, and iPhonesand now that were gearing up for a probable iPhone release, its time to shut those experiments down and get back to doing business. I just hope Browetts next venture focuses on increasing the quality of the Apple Store, rather than its financials.
Associate editor Serenity Caldwell left Apple retail in 2009, but itll always have a place in her heart.
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