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Apple Macintosh, iPod, iPad and iPhone news and advice in Dublin, Ireland


Apple Ireland meets PC World

In recent months, Apple has launched a number of "store-within-store" experiments in PC World outlets in Dublin. This involves Apple agreeing to take over a section of a PC World store, and turning it into a mini-Apple store, with an Apple employed staff member.

Apple Store in Ireland's PC World

Let's step back on this for a moment. In the US in the late 90s, Apple tried something similar in CompuUSA stores in the US, where they sectioned off a part of their stores and then controlled the retail experience within these outlets. Up to this point, these types of PC sellers offered poor, ill informed advice to consumers, and so the perception of Apple products was being tarnished. In the longer term these "store-in-store" experiments led to the current Apple retail stores, and you have to wonder if Apple used this as a learning experiment. The end goal was Apple-run stores, so dipping their toes in by taking over a section of a would-be rival's store was a great way to gain new perspectives.

Roll forward to 2009, and Apple has a heavy retail presence in the US and closer to home in the UK. Consumers in both the UK and Ireland know about Apple retail stores. We have spoken to many consumers who do not own a Mac, but are aware of Apple Stores and their reputation. Therefore this is an interesting backdrop for Apple's move into three PC World stores in Ireland.

Firstly looking at the Apple Ireland website, it lists three outlets, with two in Dublin and one in Cork:

PC World Airside
Unit 11
Airside Retail Park
Co. Dublin

PC World Cork
Unit 5
Mahon Point Retail Park

PC World Liffey Valley
Liffey Valley Retail Park
Fonthill Road
Dublin 22

Currently there are no phone numbers for these stores. If you look at the PC World website, there are no contact details and no reference to the Apple presence. Not a good start. The Apple site has no further information, and so it does not seem to be possible to phone any of these stores to check stock before you set out on your journey. As a consultancy who recommends to clients where to buy their gear, it is impossible to recommend that they drive to Liffey Valley on the off chance they have a power adapter or any accessory.

So what are these stores like to visit? We called into the store in Liffey Valley on three occasions:
1/ first visit was on 22nd October 2009, and was a huge disappointment. There was no staff, and of the six Macs on the main display table, three either had a kernel panic screen or were frozen.

Apple PC World Store

2/ on the second visit, the store had changed, and the Apple area had been moved closer to the door. This time it was staffed by a very helpful Apple employee. The Macs were up and running again, and there was a good number of customers looking at the section. This was a Saturday afternoon.

Apple PC World Store section.jpg

3/ the third visit was on a Tuesday. For some reason Apple do not staff their section 7 days a week. This day there was no staff member available, and so again one of the Macs was not working, and the PC World staff were hopeless when asked some questions about the Apple products and availability.

Overall here are our pluses and minuses-

- an Apple presence is an improvement over what was a poor Mac retail presence in Ireland, and so has to be welcomed
- the staff member we met was enthusiastic and a credit to Apple
- the area, when staffed, was neat and presentable
- there was a good range of Macs on show
- there were few accessories also available

- this concept is half-baked. The area is only staffed on five out of seven days
- the range of accessories is poor, and all items are in horrible plastic boxes- you can't hold or touch the packs
- there is no phone number for the Apple areas
- this is still PC World. You can't get away from having to pay at the PC World checkouts, and deal with the rude PC World staff

Overall we have been very disappointed by this endeavour. The notion is good, and the staff seem to be well informed and enthusiastic. However Apple Ireland and the UK must surely realise the huge flaw in this exercise. The Irish consumer is not isolated from Apple advertising; any internet user will see Apple adverts and will be aware of the Apple retail store experience in other countries. What the Irish consumer is being offered is a partial idea, and one which falls well short of expectations. As a retail experience, this is poorly executed. It fails to understand the Apple brand, and fails to deliver on the brand's values. For a company as strong as Apple, consumers arrive with a set of expectations. Through the UK and US Apple retail stores, many consumers have visited a store or have some second-hand knowledge of these retail outlets.

This venture misses consumer expectations in 2009, and we can only assume that there is a strategy at work here. If Apple have embarked on this as a stepping stone to a full retail presence in Ireland, then we can appreciate the path they are on. However if these store-within-store experiments are the end of the road, we can only be left disappointed that it falls so short of what a modern internet-literate consumer expects.

Simon Spence/2009

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