For those of us who have grown accustomed to purchasing things from our laptops, tablets and smartphones, the experience of walking into a physical store and standing in line can get tiresome. It's hard to top the immediacy and convenience of online and mobile shopping. Yet, there are still plenty of items that are best purchased in person.
Apple hopes to bridge the gap between these digital and physical worlds. The company just released an update to its Apple Store app for iOS. Using the application, customers can not only purchase Apple products like they can on the Apple website, but they can now opt to pick them up in person at one of the company's many retail locations.
While everybody else is clamoring for a spot in line and waiting around, mobile-savvy consumers can just walk in, pick up their item, and walk out of the store. Of course, results may vary depending on what's being purchased. If it's already in stock at the store, it can be available within a matter of minutes. Other purchases may take a few days to be delivered. This in-store pick-up program was piloted in California and is now being instituted at all U.S. Apple stores.
The app can also be used as a sort of self check-out scanner for certain accessories in Apple stores. Need a new case for your iPhone or a power adaptor for your MacBook? Now you can scan the item with your phone's camera, pay for it in the app and be on your way.
This model offers a glimpse of one version of what the future of commerce may look like. E-commerce is infinitely more convenient for certain things, but sometimes consumers still need to see and try a product in person, whether it's a MacBook Air or a pair of jeans.
For retailers, offering a mobile app that alleviates some of the pain of real world, bricks-and-mortar shopping can provide a competitive advantage on digital platforms without cannibalizing physical in-store sales. Mix in location-based offers and coupons and the incentive for consumers to swing by the store is even greater.