The Secrets of the Apple Store
Employee interactions are intensely controlled at retail giant
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2011 10:55 AM CDT
A pedestrian walks by an Apple Store following an announcement that Apple has become the world's most valuable brand on May 9, 2011 in San Francisco, California.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – At a time when retail is suffering, one store continues to thrive: the Apple Store. To wit: The number of people who visited the 326 stores in one quarter outweighed the number of visitors to the four main Disney theme parks last year. Apple’s retail sales per square foot—excluding online sales—are much higher than those of Tiffany & Co., Coach, and Best Buy. The Wall Street Journal takes a long look at the store and its hush-hush policies, talking to current and former employees, scouring confidential training manuals, and listening in on a recorded store meeting, to paint a picture of the dizzying control Apple exerts over its brick-and-mortar empire.

Applying for a job at one of the stores is intense, usually requiring two rounds of interviews that include questions about leadership skills and Apple product enthusiasm. Training is perhaps even more intense, involving customer service classes and a couple weeks—or longer—spent shadowing experienced employees before being allowed to interact with customers. And Apple exerts a large degree of control over that interaction, providing scripted training; for instance, when troubleshooting tech problems, "as it turns out" should be used instead of "unfortunately," which has a negative connotation. Employees can be fired for writing about Apple on the Internet or being six minutes late three times in six months. Click for much more, including a history of the stores.

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Jun 16, 2011 2:29 AM CDT
I get creeped out every time I go there, like I'm walking into a surreal movie set from Allen's 'Sleeper' but without the comedy.
Jun 15, 2011 5:35 PM CDT
Apple's clientele is high end that expect the best and are willing to pay a hefty premium for great service and knowledgeable staff. My experiences with high employee turnover, clueless bumpkins that lie and smoke pot on their breaks leaves no doubt in my mind why apple has been so successful.
Jun 15, 2011 3:42 PM CDT
I'd love to be able to read the entire article. Links to subscriber-only content are less than useful.