Apple plans to release a new iOS app Thursday, which should make placing and picking up orders in Apple Stores significantly easier.
In the new Apple Store app, customers can order in-stock products and pick them up at the retail store about 12 minutes after the order is completed. It takes about three minutes for the order to enter the system at the designated Apple Store, two minutes for Apple employees to set the ordered products aside, and then a seven-minute grace period for employees to get all of the materials in order. After that, customers will be able to walk right up to the counter, sign for their order and leave. No more lines, no more registers.
If the customer's desired product isn't in stock, such as a custom computer or specific accessory, Apple will send the customer a designated pick-up date as soon as the purchase is completed through the app. The product is shipped to a nearby Apple Store for free, and once it arrives, Apple will send a push notification to the user's phone via the new Apple Store app to let them know it's ready for pick-up. Again, Apple says the same 12-minute grace period applies as soon as the user receives the push notification.
Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., wants users to use the Apple Store app instead of creating lines at its 357 retail stores. To incentivize users to order with the app, Apple says it will give those customers priority over those waiting for a retail specialist, which ought to cut down on foot traffic within its crowded stores.
Apple will allow customers to return items purchased online to an Apple store, and the company will even attribute revenue from those items to the retail store where they're delivered and picked up. Since Apple stores hire based on sales, this ought to help the company create more job opportunities at its stores. The company expects a 30 percent increase in sales at retail stores for this program.
The biggest feature in Apple's new app, however, gives customers the ability to perform self-check-out. Here's how it works: Once you find the items you want to purchase, just boot up the app and you will see an option to purchase the product in the store. The iOS device then scans the items with the camera, and then you just click purchase and charge whatever credit card is on your Apple ID. Then, you're free to leave the store.
While the app's other services will only be available to U.S. customers, the self check-out option will launch in Apple stores worldwide on Thursday.
The app is convenient for customers, but it's a slam dunk for Apple. The app effectively sets the bar even higher for all other retailers, by making the check-out process simple and fast. Apple, which is all about aesthetics, could benefit from smaller crowds in its stores. Customers may feel better knowing they won't have to wait in long lines.
The app is expected to launch as a free download in the App Store Thursday.
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