Steve Jobs rescued Apple and, usually, it is the products—the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and iPad—that grab all the attention and the kudos. Yet none of these products could have been as successful as they have been without Jobs’ masterpiece, the Apple retail store. As we learn from Walter Isaacson’s biography, Steve believed strongly in the concept of company retail stores even almost everyone else thought otherwise. The Apple board was haunted by the abject failure of Gateway’s stores but Jobs persisted and got his way.
Apple Stores have been perhaps the greatest retail innovation of the century. The presence in high-footprint prestige locations, the hands-on appeal, the Genius Bars, the move away from a central cash till, all are new ideas that Apple brought together and used to create record-breaking returns.
Now, according to Mac Rumors, we are about to see another ground-breaking idea which fuses the online buying experience with the attraction of the physical store. Self checkout is about to be implemented via the Apple Store app. No doubt initially in a few stores in the USA but, eventually it will be rolled out to the world. Just how this will work—obviously there has to be some physical stock control—is in the detail. The concept is right and can only further bolster the reputation of Apple Stores, both with the buying public and with retail peers.