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Target and Apple Partnership Coming

01/10/2012

What happens when you blend Apple with Target? Do you come up with iTarget or something else? We’ll know soon.

Apple will be opening new store-within-a-store locations in select Target locations later this year, enabling the company to expand its retail reach into smaller metro areas that can’t support a full Apple store.

Apple has a checkered history of retail partnerships. Former partners include Sears, Circuit City, Computer City and Office Max. These were terminated a decade ago when Apple focused its efforts on CompUSA and its own new retail stores. CompUSA has since gone out of business, and Best Buy was brought back as a retail partner mid-decade. Apple currently operates a “store within a store” at over 600 Best Buy locations with “Apple Shops,” some of which feature staffing by Apple Solution Consultants. Best Buy has over 1,000 total stores in the US.

Apple has a lot on the line in this partnership when it comes to consumer perceptions.

Which Brand Benefits Most? – Target merchandising has become plain vanilla. Apple, on the other hand, is anything but vanilla. Which of the two brands benefits most from this relationship? My vote is Target.

Replicating the Apple Store Experience is Impossible – the store within a store concept is just that…a concept. In reality displays, fixtures, signage and product do not create a store within a store. Walk into an Apple store and there’s a vibe or energy that will not be replicated in a hundred square feet of SuperTarget.

Apple’s Customer Service Will Not Fly in Target – In December my post “2012 Trend Back to Real Merchandising“, highlighted the need for real service in retail environments. The Apple store is one of the few bright lights when it comes to retail service. Last November, while traveling, the power cord for my MacBook failed. I went to the Apple store and received a new cord. On the spot. No big deal. Unfortunately there’s no way for this to happen at Target.

Conceptually this partnership is smart for both companies. I just don’t see it being any different from what Apple has at Best Buy or Sears or CompUSA.

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