Will Apple’s Express pickup concept drop off post-pandemic?
Since March, plexiglass protectors between cashiers and customers and other in-store add-ons to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus have become familiar sights in retail environments. Now, Apple is taking protective measures a step further. The brand is trying out a store concept designed with a socially-distanced buying experience specifically in mind.
Apple is piloting the new store concept, called Apple Express, in Burlingame, CA, according to 9 to 5 Mac. The first Express store, which has been repurposed from an existing Apple store, positions store staff behind two wood-paneled counters in an area blocked off from direct contact with customers by plexiglass. Behind the counters are two sets of shelves featuring Apple products. One counter is used for pickup orders and the other is used for Genius Bar appointments, which must be scheduled beforehand. Currently, only two customers are allowed in the store at one time. Only Genius Bar appointments and order pickups are allowed — no casual shopping.
Facilitating easy online order pickup has become a big priority for retailers as online shopping has skyrocketed since the beginning of the pandemic. Order pickup allows customers to get the products they need without having to wait for delivery and, ideally, allows them to avoid spending too much time inside a store location.
Apple has been consistently attentive to the circumstances of the pandemic with its retail presence. It was one of the first retailers to close all of its U.S. locations as the nation went on lockdown in March. In May it rolled out a chain-wide masking mandate and temperature checks and was quick to re-close stores in areas exhibiting new COVID-19 surges.
California, home to the Apple Express pilot location, is according to an NPR report, among the U.S. states with the most total cases of COVID-19 to date, as of August.
The technology and gadget market has remained strong throughout the pandemic. Other tech retailers, such as Best Buy, have posted record results since March attributable to several factors, including an increased demand for technology to manage stay-at-home working and teaching.
- Apple pilots Express store concept for easy pickup of online orders – 9 to 5 Mac
- Is Apple being too cautious? – RetailWire
- Coronavirus Maps: How Severe Is Your State’s Outbreak? – NPR
- Best Buy produces record results doing things differently in the pandemic – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you see in the future for Apple Express and similar concepts after the pandemic ends? Do any other retailers or brands stand out for developing similarly unique approaches in response the pandemic?