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Apple Stores Retail Mix Analysis

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Apple Stores Retail Mix Analysis

Introduction

Apple Corporation is a large organization that designs and manufactures computer software and consumer electronics. The company operates retail chain stores in different countries across the world. Based in the United States, the company has a strong presence in foreign countries. This paper keenly describes Apple’s retail mix, variety and assortment of merchandise, sustainable competitive advantage and Customer Relationship Management. In addition, this paper devises growth opportunities and recommendations for the retailer.

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Apple store, Company profile

The Apple corporation was established in 1976 in California the United States. The company was later incorporated as the Apple Computer Corporation one year later. In 2007, the company adopted its current name to reflect its expanding product line. The apple corporation has over 34,000 employees globally, reflecting diversity in the workforce. Apple is known for its personal computers, Apple TV, iPods, computer accessories and other consumer electronics.

Type of retailer by retail mix and by ownership

Location

I visited the SOHO store and the New York store in Fifth Avenue New York. In 2001, Apple opened its first retail stores in the United States. Two years later, the company expanded its retail operation into foreign markets. Currently, Apple focuses on global expansion to cater to the expansive customer base in 2009, the company recorded worldwide annual sales of approximately 43 billion dollars (Allen and Morton pp, 7).

Retail mix

The Retail Mix describes the combination of factors that Apple applies to design its marketing strategy. The marketing strategy enables the retailer to attract and retain its customers. Some of the factors employed by Apple stores include merchandise variety and assortment, promotion, advertising, pricing, advertising, store design and location of retail stores.

Competitors of the retailer (major, direct, and indirect competitors), both nationally and globally, and in the geographic location visited

One of the greatest threats facing the Apple stores in the competitive environment within its core industries is hardware and software as well as delivery of entertainment and media. The company’s competitive environment is categorized into direct and indirect competition and national and international competition. In addition, the company’s competitive environment is based on geographical location.

Apple competes directly with other corporations in the computing industry. Some of these companies include established multinational organizations like Microsoft’s Zune. The company’s Macintosh personal computers are constantly under the threat of other personal computers.

In the entertainment and media industry, Apple faces a stiff challenge. The market for smartphones is highly lucrative hence attracting competitors. The company’s iPhone is not only facing competition from mobile phone manufacturers but also internal competition from the established computer and software dealers. The company’s policies have come under heavy criticism from software developers who claim that the company attempts to control the industry. However, it is notable that the company has introduced ground-breaking innovative solutions. The iPhone is a recent innovation that is compatible with existing products but with quality vision. According to company information, Apple will take the advantage of the tough economic times to buy foreign electronic stores and make them low-cost modular apartments.

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Variety and Assortment the retailer offers (describe and evaluate their characteristics)

The Apple corporation product portfolio comprises Macintosh personal computers, digital music players and mobile communication devices. In addition, Apple deals with computer software and networking solutions.

Apple channels of operation

Apple Stores distributes its products globally via an online network of stores, retail chains and wholesalers. In addition, the company uses value-added resellers and an efficient direct sales force to distribute its products. Technology in developing countries has pushed the demand for software applications, smart mobile phones and resellers.

Target Market

Apple targets the growing personal computer market especially the United States and other established markets. In addition, Apple is repositioning its marketing and distribution strategies to tap into the emerging markets in China, India, Mexico and the Koreas (Webster and Robins, pp14).on the other hand, the growth and expansion of information and communication, hardware and entertainment and media devices. It is imperative that the company repositions itself to expand its operations and maximize revenue bases.

Retail Mix

Customer Service

Customer service forms a key element in all Apple’s operations. The company focuses on customer delight and satisfaction. In this regard, Apple employs customer-focused strategies. The company has elaborate and efficient customer support programs. Take for instance the Mac, iPhone and iPod whom within 90 days of purchase are eligible for unlimited support. Online customers are also enabled to arrange phone calls; brows support pages and reach Apple experts for technical support. In addition, online customers have the option to utilize e-mail support for the iTunes Store and the Apple Photo services which enable customers to ask questions and check order status. The company encourages its customers to test drive and explore the products where training and technical support are provided. The company uses its independent consultants to give support to its wide client base in the installation and integration of systems. The company plans to use real-time public schedules and social networking tools to cater to its clients (Frank, pp 26).

Location

Due to the large investment in retail store facilities and lease arrangements, Apple stores employ store-location research to establish the most appropriate sites. This plan plays a significant role in identifying sites for the company’s expansion plans. In this regard, the company focuses on the evaluation of location sites in terms of accessibility to potential customers, geographical area, the propensity to natural calamities and other hazards as well as the need for long lease objectives. Apple plans to employ a strategy based on a location-based platform. In the strategy, Apple uses the closest stores and restaurants to send offers to the customers. The company plans to employ this strategy especially for its iPhone and portable devices.

Pricing

The Apple Corporation employs price discrimination, skimming and versioning. Price skimming refers to setting a high price for quality products. The Apple stores utilized this strategy to target early adopters of the iPhone gadgets. For instance, despite the high price of the iPhone, the company realized booming sales. The company even discontinued its cheaper models a few months after launching the iPhone. Price discrimination, Apple charges customers different prices for the same product based on segmentation and nature of market power. It is notable that in addition to price discrimination and skimming, Apple links the use of its products, for instance, the company has linked the use of iPod to iTunes stores (Sussman, pp 22).

Communication Mix

The communication mix for Apple describes the methods and medium employed by the company to reach its targeted audience. This forms the marketing strategy that the company employs to boost sales and create a positive public image. Apple uses an integrated communication strategy that aligns all components of the communication mix. The company uses advertising, direct marketing, personal selling and sales promotion.

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Design & Display

Apple stores are carefully designed to reflect the location and regulatory requirements. Due to its captivating designs, the company has received accolades for its design architecture. Although many stores are located within shopping malls and superstores, the company is currently constructing and-alone branches. The Company’s layout is metallic walls and backlit signage making an attractive shop for customers Most of the branches have sale terminals that facilitate transactions and help to strengthen customer service (Michael & Barton 2008,pp35).

Sustainable competitive advantage

Innovation is one area that gives the Apple Corporation a competitive advantage. the company invests substantial funds to finance research and development activities. As a result, innovative solutions like outstanding product design have strengthened the company’s competitive advantage. Secondly, the company has employed customer-focused strategies. This has enabled the company to enhance customer loyalty and satisfaction. Retention rates have gone high indicating that the company’s strategies are efficient. Customer support and quality products are the key elements for the company’s competitive environment.

Describe one: CRM activities OR customer loyalty programs

Apple Corporation employs effective Customer Relationship Management strategizes to enhance customer acquisition and retention. The company has customer programs that run in academic institutions, universities, colleges and schools. In the program, Apple gives personalized training and demonstrations. This applies especially to schools using Apple products.

An example of a fashion and staple merchandise category this retailer offers

The iPad is a fashion and merchandise product offered by the retailer. According to company sources, the iPod with a Multi-Touch screen will enable customers to page through websites, write emails and flick through photos and even watch movies and videos. The product is compatible with other Apple products making it a big breakthrough that will give customers a real experience (Steven, pp 16).

Recommendations for the retailer; growth opportunities, operational, or strategic recommendations

The American demand for personal computers will continue to grow in the near future presenting a big opportunity for the Apple Corporation. In addition, the growth and expansion of information and communication technology in developing countries present a biog opportunity for the retailer. Evidently, the emerging economies are providing an opportunity for the company’s growth. In addition, the expansion and growth of the entertainment and media industry mean that the company has huge business potential. This is especially important considering that social networking sites are gaining a lot of popularity in recent years. Apple Corporation needs to reposition itself to cater to the young generation who are in need of entertainment gadgets. On the other hand, Apple corporation needs to strengthen and diversify its markets to capitalize on the increased pace of globalization. The company needs to employ global strategies that support its operations in foreign countries.

Works cited

Allen, Toharn. & Morton, Morgan. (1994). Information Technology and the Corporation of the 1990s. New York: Oxford University Press. pp 5-9.

Frank, Robin. (1990). West of Eden: The End of Innocence at Apple Computer, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp 23-27.

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Michael Levy & Barton Wertz(2008). Retailing Management 7th edition.New York: Macmillan Publishers, pp 34-46.

Steven Lawrence. (1994). Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer That Changed Everything. New York: Macmillan. pp 14-19.

Sussman, Jimmy. (1996). Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. London: Routledge. pp 20-24

Webster, Farad. & Robins, Kevin. (1986). Information Technology—A Luddite Analysis. Norwood, NJ: Ablex. pp 12-15.

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