It Feels Like Trust—The Apple Store App And Self Checkout

by Randy Murray on December 19, 2011

The Apple Store is always busy, but this time of year it’s packed.

The other day I needed to pick up an adapter. I found it on the rack at the back of the Apple Store, then walked around looking for a red-shirted employee to help me check out. A helpful young woman told me to “stand right there and I’ll find someone to help you,” then she disappeared in the back. There was a line at the front picking up and paying for all of the Apple goodies.

And then I remembered the new Apple Store iPhone app. I pulled out my iPhone and downloaded the app right there on the spot, using the Apple Store’s wifi. I opened the app and it recognized that I was in an Apple Store. It let me scan the barcode on the product, confirm the purchase using my iTunes account, and showed me the receipt. I asked a passing Red Shirt if that was all I needed to do and he smiled and said, “Yep, you’re good.” So I put the adapter in my pocket and walked out of the store.

I stood there stunned for a moment. I’m sure in years to come this will be a common, everyday experience. But today, this time, if felt like magic. It felt like I was living in the future.

And it felt, oddly, like the staff at the Apple Store trusted me.

That’s an odd feeling. A retail store trusts its customers. It’s not worried about shoplifting and theft.

I’m sure they have all of the technology necessary to make sure that people aren’t walking out of the store without paying, but I couldn’t see any of that. There was no one checking for receipts at the door. No one eyed me suspiciously when I put the adapter in my pocket. I just scanned it and walked out. That’s not what happens at Best Buy or even Costco.

I have a feeling that other retailers will not be able to understand how powerful this is. If you treat your customers with respect, if you don’t treat them as stupid, and if you give the appearance that you trust them, they, we, will relax. And we’ll buy things without hesitation. I need this, I pick it up, I pay for it on the go, I walk out with it, it’s mine.

Even now, I’m not so much impressed with the technology as still pleasantly aglow with the feeling that Apple trusted me and everyone else in the store. And I’m feeling that old evangelical fervor, as I did years ago when I wanted to tell everyone about the Mac. Now I want to drag people into the nearest Apple Store, have them buy something, and walk out.

I’ll try and restrain myself, but it’s hard. This is what happens when you feel trusted and respected. People respond.


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  • Paperless | Nic Lake December 21, 2011
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  • Mr Retailer- If my face fits can I stop waving my phone around? « MARS/Y&R Blog June 26, 2012

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