I remember the first time I walked into an Apple Store and my first impression was the amount of open space given to the products. This went against the grain of typical retail maximising every square foot. Apparently breaking the rules, or inventing them, has worked for Apple with astonishing sales of over $4000/square foot.
However, it was Apple’s approach to designing the store that lead me to this post. They treated it like designing a product and prototyped an entire store before launching it and discovered some key insights before going to market.
“One of the best pieces of advice … was to go rent a warehouse and build a prototype of a store, and not, you know, just design it, go build 20 of them, then discover it didn’t work,” says Jobs. In other words, design it as you would a product. Apple Store Version 0.0 took shape in a warehouse near the Apple campus. “Ron and I had a store all designed,” says Jobs, when they were stopped by an insight: The computer was evolving from a simple productivity tool to a “hub” for video, photography, music, information, and so forth. The sale, then, was less about the machine than what you could do with it. But looking at their store, they winced. The hardware was laid out by product category – in other words, by how the company was organized internally, not by how a customer might actually want to buy things.”So we redesigned it,” he says. “And it cost us, I don’t know, six, nine months. But it was the right decision by a million miles.”