Several years ago, my first visit to an Apple store was to buy an iPod for my son. Amazing experience. The store had a clean and open design, and the staff was really helpful. When I was ready to buy, I realized something was missing. The checkout line!
Instead of a row of registers at the front, the staffer just pulled out a scanner from underneath a table, charged my credit card, printed a receipt and we were on our way.
Much of the credit for that store design goes to Ron Johnson, Apple's former Senior VP of Retail Operations. Ron joined Apple in 2000 after earning his retail stripes at Target and Mervyns. The Apple store design eventually became the biggest success story in retail: twice as productive as Tiffany and 7 times the median of the top 20 retailers.
Of course, Apple's stores wouldn't have been such a...