Apple Retail Store Success: It Ain’t Rocket Science

In May of 2001, Apple opened its first retail outlet store in Tysons Corner, Virginia – it was immediately met by critics and the typical roster of Apple-haters with predictions of doom and massive financial losses. Eight years later, Apple has over 255 retail stores worldwide, and are the darling of the retail computer industry. So what makes them so successful?

While the Mac, iPod and iPhone are what makes Apple successful, the formula for their retail store’s success isn’t so obvious until you actually visit an Apple store. Sure, great products sell themselves, but Apple has made sure that their products have the best opportunity to do so by creating an environment that offers virtually no reason for a buyer to go elsewhere.

Apple Introduces Cross-border Shopping, for Some

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Up until today, Apple (s aapl) customers have only been able to ship products bought via Apple’s online stores to addresses located in the country of the store they’re ordering from. I say up until today because as of now, that’s no longer the case.

Now if you wanted to give your friend in Mexico an iPod for his birthday, all you have to do is opt for Cross Border shopping from Apple.com. There are currently 20 countries available for international delivery.
While the list does include France, Italy, Spain, UK, and Mexico, one notable absence is Canada. I mean, seriously, we’re right here. Mexico gets the nod, but we’re left out in the cold (excuse the pun)? Well, life isn’t fair, and a list of 20 means a lot of other countries are probably feeling left out as well, so I’ll swallow my national pride and move on. Read More about Apple Introduces Cross-border Shopping, for Some

Honeyshed Shuts Down

Hate to say we told you so (two times), but Honeyshed, the QVC-meets-MTV online video shopping channel, is shutting down, reports AdWeek. The decision to close the Honeyshed doors came after backer Publicis decided to not invest any more money in the endeavor.

The move must have been somewhat sudden because just last Thursday Honeyshed announced it had selected white-label provider Ooyala to power its video.

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In November, CEO Stephen Greifer confirmed for us that during its first year, Honeyshed never received more than 7,000 visitors a month. Greifer told AdWeek that after the site rebooted last fall it was getting as many as 15,000 unique visitors per day during its peak, but that number trailed off when the re-launch marketing campaign ended.

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Holiday Stress? Google Wants to Help

xmas_ribbon_finalIt may be a terrible pun, but it is a useful micro-site from the people at Google. The site (and the pun) is “Appy Holidays,” and the aim is to help you manage your hectic holiday schedule.

In the tradition of Fashion Your Firefox, and iPhone Your Life, Appy Holidays collects a selection of Google Apps under a consolidated theme, in this case “manag[ing] the holiday hustle and bustle”.

The Google services featured on the web site include Calendar, Docs, Picasa, and the recently released Gmail-integrated video chat. In fact, the services listed and their suggested uses does present a nice way of getting all of your holiday ducks in a row. Most useful are probably Calendar and Docs, especially if you’re already using these services professionally.

I’m awful at keeping track of deadlines without a planner or calendar, and I already use Google Calendar to keep track of appointments, so it makes sense to add a new calendar devoted exclusively to making sure I don’t miss any of those holiday parties I’ve committed to, or, at the micro-management level, reminding me that the turkey needs to go in by 10:00 if it’s going to be ready when company comes.

Appy Holidays also suggests using Docs for shopping list management, and for labelling and writing holiday letters. They’ve even prepared a special selection of templates so that most of the work is already done for you. If you’re like me, you might also want to keep tabs on your holiday budget using a Docs spreadsheet, since otherwise January might be a very long, scant month indeed. Leftover turkey can only feed you for so long.

More Holiday Gift Ideas for Web Workers

Darrell Etherington recently came up with a list of holiday gifts, and I wanted to add some ideas to the mix. I’m more of a gadget gal, myself. I like tangible items that I can unwrap and hold in my hands, marvel at the construction and hope, of course, that they are intuitive to use since I hate to read instructions.

Here’s a list of gift suggestions I’ve come up with ranging from $10 to $500 to accommodate any gift-giving budget.

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Finish Your Holiday Shopping With Amazon Mobile for iPhone

Just in time for last minute Christmas shopping, Amazon.com has released their mobile app for the iPhone and iPod touch. It offers searching, Wish List and account access, and purchasing directly from the app. If you’re already an impulsive internet shopper, then this may just be your worst nightmare. If you dread the mall and don’t have time to spend hours finding the right gift at your computer, than it could be your new best friend.

Amazon isn’t just porting their website’s functionality to the iPhone platform, either, although all of the central features of the site are there. They’ve wisely taken advantage of the iPhone’s specific abilities to add a new feature called “Amazon Remembers,” which is similar to the standalone SnapTell Explorer app. It’s kind of like Shazam but with pictures instead of sound.You take a picture with your iPhone’s camera, and the images are instantly uploaded to Amazon.com’s servers. Amazon tries to match products in its database to the ones taken by your camera, and then returns the results to the user to either purchase or save for later.

iPod Touch users can join in the fun, too, since Amazon Remembers also allows you to use images stored in your device’s photo album. Testing out the feature produced good results. A photo of the Iron Man DVD saved from Google Images returned the Two-Disc Special Collectors’ Edition, as did a photo of the actual DVD from my collection. Oddly, results seemed to only be returned if I exited and reentered the app.

It’s a good beginning, and the Amazon Remembers feature is surprisingly accurate for an experimental first release. A colleague pointed out that the app lacks support for special deals, like Gold Box, Deal of the Day, and Lightnight Deals. Maybe those will come in future updates, or maybe Amazon doesn’t want me to spend as much money as I possibly can at their site. Ball’s in your court, Amazon.

Amazon Mobile is a free download from the App Store.

Gifts for Web Workers

If you’re like me, the beginning of December means one thing: regretting not having started your Christmas shopping earlier. The malls are packed, Black Friday has ravaged store stock, and you don’t have a clue what to get anyone anyway. I hope I can help with at least one of those problems, with this list of great gifts for that web worker on your list.

Black Friday for Apple Fans

On Tuesday, Apple sent out emails reminding everyone that the “best shopping event of the year” is coming up in the United States this Friday after Thanksgiving, traditionally referred to as “Black Friday” by retailers.

Past Black Friday deals at the Apple Store have been limited to modest ($50 to $100) discounts on computers. Special pricing should be available in the online store and in retail stores around the U.S.. No word yet on what Apple plans, but we will post an update here as soon as the announcement is made. In the mean time, here are some other sales going on this week for the holiday shopping season.
Best Buy is having a sale on Apple gear through Wednesday, November 26. These deals to get $50 to $150 off a new Mac are available online and in retail stores. You can check the story on AppleInsider to get all the details.
MacMall is also running two sets of promotions — a Thanksgiving Blowout Sale and a 3 Day Black Friday Sale.
If you’re having trouble deciding where to shop, MacRumors has put together a nice chart showing the best discounts on Macs between the two sites.
If you’re shopping for discounts on accessories for your Mac or iPod, check out the great web site, bfads.net for searchable listings and scans of all the major retailers. For example, check out these hard drive, printer, and digital camera deals. Online, newegg.com and Amazon.com are having some great sales too.
If you know of other great deals, please share links in the comments below.

The Apple Store Shopping Experience

Over the past few weeks I’ve had to make multiple trips to my local Apple store to pick up this, that, and the other. I’m the typical guy in that I when I go shopping I don’t actually “shop.” I go in, get what I need, and get out as fast as possible.

At most stores this is easy to do…except for Apple stores.

I’ve yet to actually need any help from an employee in the Apple stores. I know exactly what I want and I just want to purchase it and get back to my office to use it. But it would seem Apple doesn’t care to actually have a set checkout spot. No place to to get in line and buy stuff. Nothing. You just have to aimlessly wander around the store and hope to A) get approached by a free employee or B) randomly pick an employee that’s helping someone and follow them around until they’re done.

I honestly don’t understand how this entire setup is a good idea. Sure I get that they want you to interact with the employees so they can hopefully sell you more stuff…but what about the people like me who just need to go in and buy something? I spent almost 15 minutes the other day in fairly uncrowded Apple store just waiting for an employee to free up so I guy by an adapter.

Yes, I’m ranting a bit here. But I really am curious what benefit Apple sees in setting up the store like this. Are all Apple stores like this? Or did I just luck out with the one closest to me?