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Apple stands alone in controlling the in-store experience

When it comes to redefining the brick-and-mortar shopping experience, no major retailer even approaches what Apple has done with the Apple Store. The Apple Store had real mobile payments long before anyone else, as well as in-aisle payments, long before anyone else.

(To this day, Starbucks, which often proclaims itself as a mobile payments leader, offers neither. Its mobile payment app simply displays a picture of the Starbucks card barcode. Starbucks deserves kudos for its efforts at behavioral changes — meaning getting consumers in the habit of paying via their phone — but its approach represents placeholder mobile payments at best.)

Apple has rethought sales commissions, cashwraps, loss prevention, in-store tech support and the use of space. But a word of caution: Don’t fall into the JCPenney trap of trying to replicate Apple’s in-store innovations without understanding why they worked for Apple and whether your chain’s situation is similar. The word “unique” is too often abused, but it just might apply in Apple’s case.

Consider pricing. Apple the manufacturer permits no non-Apple-owned retailer to sell its stuff for anything other than the exact price Apple dictates. Forget “manufacturer’s suggested price.” Apple has a “manufacturer’s demanded price or else feel our wrath.”

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