By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
For the second consecutive year, Apple Stores has been named Best Vendor Retailer as part of the TWICE Excellence In Retailing Awards.
Apple brought home the win by continuing to deliver top-notch customer service. The fact that Apple has maintained its retail standards chain-wide despite having grown to 208 locations over the last eight years speaks well of the organization.
This performance is best reflected in the chain's steady movement upward on TWICE's Top 100 CE Retailers list. In 2008 the chain generated $6.35 billion in revenue, up 55.8 percent from the previous year. This placed Apple fourth on the list following Best Buy, Walmart and the now-defunct Circuit City.
More importantly, it managed to create this growth despite the onset of the worst recession in several generations, which resulted in a tremendous falloff in computer and consumer electronics sales.
iPhone and iPod sales continue to be Apple's greatest hardware strength. During the company's third fiscal quarter, ended June 27, the company sold 10.2 million iPods and 5.2 million iPhones. During this period Apple introduced the 3G version of the iPhone, and just last month the company began offering a camera-equipped Nano. The bigger news, however, was the reappearance of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who has been out of sight as he battles a severe health problem.
Possibly even more important then Apple's product and software developments are the services its stores offer.
In addition to the Genius Bar, which gives Apple's devotees a place to go for hands-on tech help, the stores host free workshops to teach consumers how to use the company's products.
There are other programs tailored toward youngsters and their families. During the summer months there is Apple Camp where kids take free classes on digital photography, music and moviemaking.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.