Monday, August 31, 2009

Crowds at Apple Stores

No recession at the Apple store in my area, where 60 consumers (including youngsters) crowded in at 4 pm on a Sunday for back-to-school shopping. Some of the folks were probably looking for Snow Leopard, available at a special price and heavily promoted online.

Apple is continuing to open new stores around the world and, in fact, the Telegraph says the London Apple store is the 'most profitable' in the city, for its size.

From personal experience, I can understand why customers want to buy at Apple stores. First, if you know to reserve a personal shopper online for a certain time period, you get the attention you need. If you have no appointment, show up anyway. A concierge checks with each browsing shopper from time to time, asking whether any additional help is needed, etc. No pressure, just a friendly inquiry.

Second, the store is user-friendly, with LOTS of working computers to try and even use (I saw several "shoppers" checking e-mail, updating FB pages, playing games, etc.) One big table is low to the ground with beanbag chairs for kids to sit and play games at a couple of Macs. Just the thing to keep kids busy while parents ask questions at the Genius Bar.

Third, the Genius Bar is, well, retail genius. The crowds were three-deep at my local store's Genius Bar, with separate waiting lists for iPhone/iPod help and Mac computer help. Very comforting to know you can have someone look at your gadget while you wait and maybe even get it working for you within a few minutes.

Fourth, the paperwork is pretty quick because each salesperson logs in at any nearby demo computer, enters all the data, and e-mails customers their receipts to print at home (saves trees too).

Apple is still using those stylized plastic shopping bags, however, which I wish they would ditch in favor of eco-friendly paper, but that's a quibble. All in all, a very positive customer experience. Now let's see whether the migration of apps and data from the old Mac to the new Mac goes smoothly and on time.

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