The Best Retail Experience Is By A Tech Company

I’ve spoken about this before but never really broken it down and it’s an easy guess as to who I am referring to in the title. Right now I really believe Apple have the best in store retail experience, and I’m not talking about the actual store and it’s staff per say (but they are pretty great) but a specific experience when it comes to paying.

Not many people are aware of this, but more should be. Here is how the experience goes in a few simple steps:

  1. Walk into store
  2. Find item you want
  3. Open Apple Store app
  4. Scan barcode
  5. Pay with Apple account
  6. Leave

You don’t need to speak to anyone, no collecting receipts (they’re emailed to you), no need for a bag. Just go in, pick up and go. You also don’t have to worry about security tags setting off alarms or security on the door stopping you and asking for truth. They do a good job of trusting the customer. Your iPhone also auto connects to the Apple Store Wifi when you walk in so no need to worry about getting a signal. It’s the kind of experience that Apple are well known for (although lately have struggled with through their iCloud service) but it’s one I rarely see referenced.

I am surprised that more retail stores don’t do this. Take John Lewis for example, they have a huge online store full of people’s records and could in theory set up a similar application. Imagine if their app allowed you to scan the bar-code, does an automated search to see if it is available cheaper elsewhere, (remember their line is “Never Knowingly Undersold”) and then allows you to buy with your John Lewis account linked to your credit/debit card? That’s a pretty strong experience. Now in fairness to John Lewis their app is already very good but it is lacking that ability to purchase a scanned product that is in your hand. You still need to go and queue.

Perhaps Amazon could set up a partnership with stores who can’t afford to develop that kind of back end. So you could walk into a number of smaller stores and use your Amazon account to purchase an item that you have there in your hand.

This mobile first experience makes things so much easier. Last year PayPal released this video showing their vision for the future of in store payments.:

This really could be the experience that helps brick and mortar retail stores recover from what has been a tough decade of decline. By embracing new technology, things like Square, Apple’s Passbook or Google Wallet, everyone from the large department stores to the independent business down the road could stand to benefit. Sure there are a bunch of other factors and I’m over simplifying, but surely making things easier and focusing in on a better customer experience will help improve things.

We’re getting there, but Apple are still that one step ahead of everyone else.

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