Robert Hetu

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Robert Hetu
Research Director
3 years at Gartner
23 years IT Industry

Bob Hetu is a Research Director with the Gartner Retail Industry Services team. His responsibilities involve tracking the technology markets and trends impacting the broad-based retail merchandising and planning areas. Mr. Hetu is an expert in the areas of brand, vendor and assortment management, merchandise planning, allocation, and replenishment. Read Full Bio

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Apple is not a retailer

by Robert Hetu  |  January 8, 2014  |  2 Comments

Today I saw yet another industry journal touting Apple as one of the “top 5 retailers that matter” with regard to maximizing multichannel strategy. Respectfully I suggest that Apple is not a retailer. Apple is a technology company with a carefully developed brand image and products with high demand. I grant you that they have created stores that enhance their brand image and fit the lifestyle of their core consumers. They have also been very creative in using new technologies in the sales process. Call me crazy but success of their stores is not exactly a surprise. What retailer wouldn’t kill for that kind of a product driven demand? Looking 5 years down the road, should Apple falter in product development, what odds would you lay on comp store sales growth? I see an incredibly fast-shrinking retail footprint if and when their product strategy fails to deliver.

How many conversations have occurred in retailer strategy meetings that started with “Apple does X why can’t we just do that?” Hopefully, after the debacle of JC Penney, this activity has slowed. When I see lists like this I continue to be concerned. Obviously as a retail operational arm of Apple, the stores have pioneered many possible approaches that retailers can learn from, but the fundamental difference between traditional retailers and Apple makes wholesale copying undesirable. It’s easy to create a list of major retailers and claim they are the ones to watch, but is that really helpful?

While Amazon, Apple , Macy’s , Target and Walmart are extensively reported I say it’s time for retailers to stop copying others. Start with your customer’s wants, needs and desires, compare those with your core capabilities, and develop a customer led innovation strategy that will maximize your value as a multichannel retailer. Then you can be on a list of the ones to follow.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 The true cost of a $2.99 sweater   February 7, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    [...] consumer to receive? The confusion created by the tumultuous reign of Ron Johnson (repeat after me, Apple is not a retailer) followed by a hasty return to heavy promotion have taken a toll on the retailer. Before being [...]

  • 2 The true cost of a $2.99 sweater | All that Cuteness   February 11, 2014 at 5:11 am

    [...] consumer to receive? The confusion created by the tumultuous reign of Ron Johnson (repeat after me, Apple is not a retailer) followed by a hasty return to heavy promotion have taken a toll on the retailer. Before being [...]

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