We saw reports earlier this month about several changes at Apple retail stores that saw employees being laid off, recent promotions being retracted, and other employees having their hours drastically reduced. Several days later, Apple released a statement admitting that they’d “messed up.”
ifoAppleStore now takes a close look at the situation, tying changes in the philosophy of Apple’s retail experience to the passing of Steve Jobs and the operational focus of Apple CEO Tim Cook and new retail chief John Browett. At the most basic level, Jobs served as the champion for former retail chief Ron Johnson’s vision of Apple stores focused on consumer satisfaction, and without Jobs to protect that vision Apple has slipped into a numbers-focused perspective for its retail operations.
The report says that Tim Cook is primarily an “operations guy,” with a focus on revenues and profits. Customers? Not so much. After Steve Jobs left the company, Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer began to push back to Johnson about his customer-first retail philosophy; both men felt the stores weren’t generating enough revenue to justify operating expenses.
Cook hired Browett to replace Johnson, once the former left Apple to lead JC Penney last year. Browett was hired specifically because of his focus on “traditional concepts of retailing”, which values revenue and profit over everything.
While Apple has reportedly reversed the stupid moves they made which brought such negative publicity earlier this month, they are reportedly still telling stores to reduce workshop offerings for customers, and specifying policies on staff and compensation that prioritize profits over customer and employee satisfaction.
I pray to Jobs that these idiots wake up and go back to supplying the experience that once was shopping at the Apple Store. Otherwise, we’ll wake up to headlines one morning screaming about the massive downsizing of employees and closings of Apple Stores, much like we’ve seen at Circuit City in the past, and currently are seeing at Best Buy.
Get with it Apple. You have something special with your stores. Don’t “F” it up by reaching for a few extra bucks.