The Apple Store Experience – Impressive as always

Over the weekend I took my brother in law to the Apple Store in White Plains to pick up a new MacBook and I was struck by how much of an impression it made on him.  The things I take for granted because I already know a fair bit abut technology and have spent my share of time in various Apple stores are simply not the case for the more normal consumer.

Henry was amazed at the in-store engagement – classes, questions, and purchases all around.  We flagged an employee to help him and Erick was more than happy to help Henry finalize his selection and even added in a printer.  Check out was the usual impressive event as well … no line.  The same store rep fired up his iPod touch, scanned the barcodes of the macbook and printer and swiped Henry’s card.  Henry was amazed as he signed the screen and his email receipt was sent.

I’ve had this experience quite a few times for various purchases and it still amazes me too.  Apple has enabled the point of sale to be everywhere with effectively everyone in the store able to take your transaction.  If you’ve purchased before the receipt is in your inbox before you leave the store.

9 comments for “The Apple Store Experience – Impressive as always

  1. 2/23/2010 at 12:46 am

    I went to a Microsoft Store for the first time while vacationing in Scottsdale last week (well, as long as you don't count the corporate store in Redmond). I didn't buy anything, but I was impressed at how knowledgeable the staff were about various Microsoft and non-MS products. It was very much like an Apple store experience.

    I walked away wanting one of the new laptops that have touchscreens and the display swivels and folds flat on top of the keyboard

  2. 2/23/2010 at 12:53 am

    One of the consistently amazing things about the Apple stores is the number of people actually buying.

  3. 2/23/2010 at 12:57 am

    Apple knows the experience goes beyond the touchscreen and I appreciate that.

  4. 2/23/2010 at 1:16 am

    they've got the brand experience locked solid.

  5. 2/23/2010 at 3:54 am

    Kinda makes you (me) wonder 2 things:

    1. What if Nokia had simply designed their flagship stores differently, and executed differently? Do you think they could have had a similar experience (from people buying to using N8x0's for checkout to classes and whatnot)?

    2. As Nokia makes the shift from phones to 'devices', I wonder if this scenario would even be possible? Yes, Apple sells the iPhone in its stores, but Nokia would have a much harder time, since its hardware is compatible with all 4 networks in the U.S.

    I guess my question is what, exactly, makes the Apple stores so…buyer-friendly, and is that something someone could replicate, do you think?

  6. 2/23/2010 at 1:12 pm

    You definitely raise some good questions and ones that I certainly considered on prior visits to Nokia Flagship stores. In my travels, I visited the New York, London and Helsinki stores. All were nicely designed with excellent locations within their respective cities. The product was displayed nicely and the staff was generally friendly. That's where the differences ended …

    There were very few people (other than me) actually buying at the times I was the stores and they were never crowded either. While product was displayed nicely it was not enabled in the same way Apple shows solutions and how products can work together. My brother in law noticed immediately how there were iPhones connected to most Macs in the store we visited. He saw immediately (and he's not a techie) how they worked together. In contrast, the London store showed a PC with Nokia Music running … poorly. There was no one waiting to help or show you how it all worked either. This was right after the 5800 launch – a time when you might expect there to be a considerable level of interest in the Music service in general. Left to your own devices (no pun intended) it would be very easy to leave unimpressed – and importantly without a making a purchase.

    New York was a pretty sad deal. While the store was very modern and stylishly designed, the only time I ever witnessed a crowd was for special events.

    I don't think Nokia would have a harder time selling phones because they run on multiple networks. BestBuy mobile doesn't have that problem. The challenge will always be sharing a simple AND integrated consumer value proposition. Support from a strong brand vision also helps and maintains the focus – something Apple nails.

    Seems like Nokia has fully altered their plans for Retail now … flagships are gone or going away.

  7. 2/24/2010 at 2:06 pm

    So then do you think that Apple's experience could be replicated (by anyone)? What if Dell (who will have a handheld tablet shortly) setup stores (they pretty much offer the same hardware that Apple does, loosely). Is the *experience* something that competitors could study and replicate, or is there something more to it that's somehow distinctly 'Apple'?

  8. 2/25/2010 at 1:02 pm

    It's more than the nice display and people. The Apple ecosystem is in full effect and they show it off. Clearly they have an advantage over a windows based seller because they control the full circle. That said I know the Microsoft store(s) are supposed to be quite nice and hosted well … so sure I think you could approach this level of customer engagement. The catch is how infectious your brand is and whether consumers care. Advantage Apple …

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