Jan. 30, 2011
Welcome to Mobile Mondays, a new weekly column by customer experience expert Mike Wittenstein, focused on mobile apps in retail. Each Monday, you'll get a customer's-eye view of smartphones, tablets and occasionally behind-the-scenes technology. This week, we start with Apple Computer's Apple Store App.
The Apple Store App opens to the Featured screen offering seasonally themed products. The lower navigation bar offers product, store, search, and shopping choices.
From the products section, you can see the entire product line, but you don't get the full array of machine configurations available from a standard computer browser. Content and descriptive copy are sparse, but given how well people who buy Apple's products already know them, it's enough.
In the Store section, you can do much more than find the closest store. You can schedule an hour of tech support, one-on-one assistance or do training — at any store in the country.
Customer scheduling is the game-changing application in retail. Inviting customers to be part of the scheduling process makes life easier — and more profitable — for everyone. When you know who is coming and when, labor planning is much easier, customers are happier and employees are much less stressed. In the end, you get a better customer experience and a better bottom line. Isn't that what retail customer experience is all about?
The reservations process is intuitive and fast. One tap on the blue button and you're in. Set the date and time from the list of available slots (you can change stores if the schedule at one store doesn't suit you) then confirm.
It's not just the app that makes this work — it's store systems and well-trained staff. As you walk into the store, you're greeted by a t-shirt-wearing Apple employee (they put some of their best people at the front of the store) who guides you right to the desk where you need to be. He or she often calls back to alert your trainer or sales associate that you're on your way.
If you're not in earshot, they'll also mention what you're wearing so that you're easy to spot. Translation: you get a friendly greeting using your name from the person who is ready to help you.
Already one of the most successful retailers in history with more than $5,000 per square foot sales figures, Apple is making inroads that others will surely follow. By blending its technology into retail, it's giving customers a different and better experience than other retailers.
The Apple Store App doesn't just let shoppers see what's in the store, it lets them run it.