Apple: Eating Their Own Dog Food

May 27, 2011

10:01 am

Over the weekend, Apple revamped their retail store operations to better leverage their own technology.  The focus of the changes is around the use of the iPad 2 at each kiosk to provide interactive product information for the mass of customers that flow through their retail stores.

The iPads present a self-contained demo that allows the user to see a product’s features, compare options within a product line, and understand the types of support available.  Another interesting feature is the ability to request a representative to come over and help you.  (There are a few kinks yet to be worked out on this. I tested it out and the iPad indicated I was first in line.  However, it took over 5 minutes for someone to come over even though their was staff standing idle).

A couple key benefits for Apple immediately come to mind with this new interactivity:

  • While they do a good job of staffing the stores with a good amount of people, anyone who has been to an Apple store can generally expect to wait 10-15 minutes before being helped.  Apple now has the chance to package the most frequent customer questions within the iPad, thus freeing up staff to perform the most important activity of all, processing purchases.
  • For consumers who are in the store looking to buy a Mac, it provides Apple a way to get them to experience their touch-screen enabled product lines if they are new to the Apple ecosystem.

Finally, what better signal to send to the enterprise market than utilizing your products in your own enterprise?  With corporate IT departments considering the move to tablets, and many considering the move away from the Blackberry platform, Apple is now broadcasting to the market that the iPad is in fact a product that has significant uses in the corporate market.

This is also a showcase to other retailers looking to upgrade their customer experience.  While other electronics retailers (those that are left) may shy away from showing any favoritism to Apple products, you can imagine clothing retailers upgrading their customer experience by incorporating these relatively cheap interactive devices.  For example, people could see what different colors of a particular clothing are available that aren’t in the store and even order it to have shipped home, all without interacting with a salesperson.  With an iPad, the possibilities abound.

Photo courtesy of Apple.

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Anuj Agrawal (@anujagra) is a digital media enthusiast in the DC area, with a passion for understanding what makes consumers tick. From the fundamentals of designing products that are engaging to understanding the psychology of the buying process, he has helped companies develop innovative consumer experiences.

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