Play + Usefulness = Community = Stickiness = Better Customer Relationships and Higher Sales

Apple Store Regent Street London

In the wake of the collapse of Comet in the early part of November this year and the fact that we are in the run up to Christmas, I’ve been thinking about what seems to work within retail (and other industries) when it comes to pleasing customers and staying competitive.

Let’s compare Comet with Apple who, you could say, technically were in the same space (electronic retailers) and were partial competitors on the high street.

What struck me is how Comet seemed to have not shifted with the times and were stuck with a wholly transaction led business model i.e. you visit the shop and it’s all about buying stuff.

Compare this with an Apple store.

The thing that I think is really interesting about Apple and their retail store format is how Apple’s retail stores have turned into something like community centres or hubs for the Apple community and it’s fans.

That does not mean they don’t sell. They do, do it well and sell a lot of products. But, Apple stores seem to be places where you can go, hang out, use the wifi, play with their products, where you can attend seminars, ask Qs, have private lessons amongst other things and where the store is not organised around their points of sale (you can pay anywhere you are).

You also know that there will be people there that are just like you or like stuff that you like.

Intentional or not, Apple users and fans seem to seek them out wherever they are.

And, because of this set up, their customers seem to feel comfortable and are probably more likely to buy a lot more Apple products over time.

This seems to work for me. Personally, I know I use the Apple Regent St store quite a lot, especially when I am in the centre of London and I have an hour or so to spare between meetings. When that happens I go there and use their wifi, check emails and do some work.

Interestingly, when I go there I am not met with any offer of help that I may get if I go to another store. Does this matter? No, because I know that help is around when I need it. I also know that because they play a useful part in my life by offering a useful, temporary facility when I’m in London visiting clients it helps build on the relationship that I already have with them. As a result, their brand equity and my level of advocacy for them increases.

Now, I’m not suggesting that every retailer should be replicating Apple’s format. And, I don’t think that every retailer should be offering all sorts of thing for free. But, I do think their recipe is worth thinking about if you want to build long term and valuable relationships with your customers.

I think Apple’s recipe goes something like this:

Play + Usefulness = Community = Stickiness = Transactions = Better Customer Relationships

Comet seem to have missed this. Apple hasn’t.

I think of a number of retailers on our high streets as well as online retailers that could benefit from considering this type of approach. Can you?

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9 comments On Play + Usefulness = Community = Stickiness = Better Customer Relationships and Higher Sales

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  • Hello Adrian
    If you are on the high street and simply offering shelves with electronics stuff then you are dead. That is just so. OK, I get that it may take a little while to die. And I say you are nonetheless dead: the fuse is lit and eventually your business will blow up. Why? Because it is easier/cheaper to buy the stuff from Amazon or someone like Amazon.

    So if you are a high street retailer then you have to deliver an experience that is not just about shopping. It is the kind of experience that Apple is delivering. And it could be that only premium brands will have a high street presence because only they will be able to come up with a viable business model.


    • Hi Maz,
      Thanks for that. I believe that you could be right that it will only be premium brands that be on the High Street. However, theein lies the innovators challenge….how to be a non-premium brand, offer a great customer experience and maintain a high street presence.


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