A few months ago, Apple updated their Apple Store app (the app tied to its physical retail stores, not the digital ones) to version 2.0. The added features circulated the tech blog rounds with applause, but they never caught on with mainstream media. Granted, the new features would be alien to a normal in-store shopper. And after having used them, it would take me quite a few times to ease habitually into them. But if more stores employed the features, shopping would certainly be more enjoyable.
So what exactly did Apple update? The big features released in Version 2.0 include the following:
- Browse and purchase products in-app, then pick up at store
- Easily purchase accessories on your own in-store with EasyPay
I did the former the other evening; the latter still seems too strange to me. Apple is granting enormous trust on its customers with the latter. And that’s actually something I did learn when speaking to the employee about the pick-up service — he reassured me that I should really try it and that they trust us — that they’re really trying to educate their customers on trusting them in their stores (which is fascinating considering the foot traffic they receive on an hourly basis).
So: while at work, I bought an accessory in-app (even picked out a specific color from a customize drop-down) and selected in-store pick up. It detected the nearby Apple Stores, and I merely tapped one and it automatically checked store inventory. Purchased it. Done.
About five minutes after receiving purchase confirmation emails, I was sent another email informing me that the product was ready for pick-up. Alas, I had to wait another five hours for work to elapse.
Propmtly after work, I jaunted over to the Michigan Ave store and checked my iPhone. This is what you see after tapping open the Apple Store app and initiating the pick-up screen:
Works Like It Should
The whole thing is magically slick. Stand anywhere you want in the store, tap Pick Up Now, and the app will initiate a process on the back-end that informs available Apple employees to the presence of a pick-up customer (I asked later about this, and was told that they have select individuals “on-duty” for these kinds of things).
I did, however, feel strange that somehow this wouldn’t exactly work, so I just went up to an Apple employee (a friendly guy named Pat) and told him what I was doing. He was rather surprised and genuinely excited about trying this out (apparently he hadn’t done it yet), so I re-did the Pick Up Now tap and we watched on his iPhone screen as an alert popped up. And just like that, my order information was provided so Pat could easily grab it from the back. (He had the option of returning me an alert that someone was on their way to me, but we skipped it.)
Within half a minute I had my product in-hand and a confirmation email sent to my phone. I know Apple retail stores aren’t the first to have a system in place for purchasing online and then picking up at store, but it’s by far the smoothest. I’ve tried Best Buy’s before and while it works, you have to stand in line and wait at Customer Service (which is the most awful part of their stores), as well as hope they’ve actually received the request for pick-up by the time you get to the clerk. For last-minute shopping, Apple’s process takes the cake.