Apple computers are coming soon to a David Jones store near you. In fact, Sydneysiders have been able to buy a full range of Apple gear from the chain’s Sydney city store for several weeks.
Apple’s resellers were informed of the move at its recent channel conference at Hamilton Island. The vendor had been keeping quiet about the move back into the department store market, as it was still in pilot phase, according to marketing manager, Arno Lenior.
While Lenior refused to be drawn on the timetable for the national rollout across David Jones’ stores, a spokesperson for Apple confirmed it planned to roll out nationally “as the time comes.”
The move into David Jones is not Apple’s first bite of the department store market. Next Byte director, Adam Steinhardt, said it had sold through Myer and Radio Rentals in South Australia in 1994.
“I believe they will face the same challenge they faced back then,” Steinhardt said. “To sell Macs you’ve got to be passionate and know your products.”
The predominantly casual workforce in department stores would be a challenge, as computer sales required speciality sales knowledge and service, he said.
Apple’s move into David Jones risked diluting its channel proposition, especially if the retail chain decided to engage in competitive pricing, Apple Centre, Taylor Square, director, Ben Morgan, said.
Apple’s local market was already stretching with more Apple Centres, and the expansion into David Jones could further drive down reseller market share, he said.
“It fills an important market need for Apple to be in the eye of customers who are browsing," Morgan said. “But are those customers worth undermining the profit of an already struggling channel?”
Steinhardt also saw a silver lining, saying that the showcasing of Apple products in David Jones could be a fillip for its channel partners if the retailer took up high profile advertising to drive mindshare.
“We’ve got to convince people to buy Macs over PCs first, then worry about which dealer they buy from,” he said.
For further news from the Apple partner conference, see next week’s ARN.