Anticipating Change, Apple Revises Job Titles, Duties

October 30, 2009

As the new fiscal year begins and the enormously important holiday shopping season approaches, Apple will roll out substantial changes to its retail employee job titles and duties, essentially making a U-turn to the simpler days of 2001. According to those who have seen the plans, Apple will consolidate three sales floor job positions into a single position that will perform all three job tasks. The company will also add a higher-paid job position on the sales floor to focus on “creating owners.” The changes are being made to handle the huge amount of traffic that the stores experience, and to improve flexibility for future sales innovations and changes. The job changes coincide with the switch to a single color of employee T-shirt reported here earlier.

The stores hosted 45.9 million visitors during the last quarter. With an average of 262 stores open during the quarter, that means an average of 192 persons are visiting the each store every hour. That amount of traffic is huge and, as Sr. V-P Retail Ron Johnson often recounts, surpasses the old Gateway computer retail stores, which averaged just 250 visitors per week before they closed down in 2004.

When the Apple stores first opened in 2001, they were staffed with four job titles: Manager, Assistant Manager, Sales Associate and Genius. Since then, Apple has added various job positions to handle specialized duties, including Keyholder, Theater Manager, Telephone Operator, Personal Shopping Specialist, Keyholder, Business Specialist, Inventory Specialist and most recently the Concierge.

Now, the Specialist, Personal Shopping Specialist and Concierge positions will be merged into one title—Specialist. This person will receive training to perform all three job assignments, and may change duties daily as the store’s requirements demand. The company cites flexibility and better service to the customer as the reasons for the change.

Second, Apple has created the new position of Expert, a full-time position with a higher pay scale than the Specialist. This position will align with the Genius and Creative positions on the organization chart. According to insiders, there will be at least three Experts at each store, with many more at the high-profile stores. Again, this position was apparently dictated by the high store traffic and the opportunity to sell more products.

According to insiders, the Experts will have “exceptional product knowledge, be top performers in creating owners, and should be known in their stores for their leadership in the Red Zone (sales floor).” The position is being described as a career-level opportunity for those with exceptional skills and who appreciate converting visitors into Apple buyers.

The Genius, Creative and Inventory Specialist positions will not change under this new plan.

Lastly, Apple has swept away all of the store management titles, and has replaced them entirely:

  • Market Manager becomes Market Leader
  • Store Manager to Store Leader
  • Sr. Assistant Store to  Senior Manager
  • Assistant Manager to Manager

So far, the only explanation for the title changes is that, “It takes both great leaders and great managers to successfully run an Apple Store.” Also, there has been no description of how the job duties might differ after the titles change.

Apple has scheduled a November 15th “all hands” meeting to explain these changes and to provide additional information ahead of Black Friday, November 27th, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

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