When you erode your key differentiator what else is left?

When I think about Apple, and their success, much of it can be attributed to their great service. The genius bar, appointment scheduling, roving “mobile” check outs create a retail environment like know other. People go to hang out! See what’s new. Get advice. And of course buy a LOT of products.

Retail and service are key differentiators for Apple. Plus they do it well, for great profit!

Each Apple store employee brings in $420,000 in revenue and is paid just over $25,000 per year. In store profit is reported at between 26- 22% Business Insider reports for comparison purposes that Best Buy employees bring in $42,000 each in revenue. That’s 10X less than Apple.

It’s a bad move for any company to consciously to erode key differentiators and Apple quietly started doing just that this month by laying off Apple Store employees and cutting hours. Even crazier when the cuts coincide with the start of Back-To-School and Holiday shopping. Isn’t the i-phone 5 about to be released as well?

What is your key differentiation? Do you enhance it, promote it and share it every day? My fear for Apple is that this is the start of their retail operation looking, sounding and feeling like every other retail operation. And when that happens, they are sure to see erosion in their market share and their profits.

Remember…if you don’t differentiate yourself from the competition the customer will do it for you. With price.