The Register reporter Courtney Devereux is currently in Chicago for the IHA’s International Home + Housewares Show. She took a moment to visit the local Apple store and report back on its customer experience.
Upon arrival at the Chicago Apple Store, I immediately felt both overwhelmed and unwelcomed. My first thought was that it reminded me of a high society club, and even though I was decked out in club gear, if it wasn’t the latest it wasn’t enough.
The store it self is a wonderful show of how simplicity doesn’t mean a lack of design. Like all Apple locations the fit-out was minimal yet very luxurious feeling. Staff roam around in simple Apple logo embodied shirts and hold iPads. Spread over two stories, entering the mezzanine level was just a pew of seats, designed to let customers relax and most likely abuse the free Wi-Fi (which of course I also did).
As I walked down the glass stairs, I felt like I was entering Elon Musk’s bathroom in high tech design. Spacious and expertly laid out, the way products were displayed kept the simplicity while also showcasing the large range of customisation Apple offers for its products.
I was there to get a quote on a broken Apple Watch, so immediately I scouted the area for help. Unfortunately, there is no front service till or a reception desk of any kind. Leaving me to wander around aimlessly as I scanned for potentially free staff, which proved difficult as 1) the store was very full 2) Everyone was wearing black making staff hard to locate and 3) I was nervous about bothering someone.
About five minutes passed and security was eyeing me out, eyeing out products I obviously had no intention to purchase. Yet at that moment, my saving grace in the form of an Apple employee approached me, speaking the words we were all thinking.
“Yah look lost, hun.”
Like a cult leader, he radiated superiority, a fountain of knowledge that would be useless anywhere but inside these walls. And I suddenly felt welcomed into this high powered brand’s story.
Apart from the initial fumble, both staff members I talked to were beyond helpful and lovely to chat too. They seemed to know the answer to every question I had, and surprisingly I wasn’t pushed into upgrading or purchasing anything, as I was very much expecting. The sales experience itself was refreshing, in the two minute conversation I had with the staff was easy, with all three of us chatting away quiet easily, yet still centered around products and their care.
What struck me as I was leaving was how I went from entering the unknown to leaving a warm welcoming space. The way the store is laid out with seating, free charging ports, and Wi-Fi creates a strong community vibe, one which encourages people to take their time and be part of the brand.
Yet, Apple is a billion dollar company, and signs of that are all around; from the central city placement of this huge glass utopia, to the story high television screen located in the front of the store, visible from every single point. It was an experience to see the hum of the beehive. The store sees thousands of people through its doors daily, and no doubt most will leave with the sense they have been welcomed into this high society community. Even if they’re just there to steal the Wi-Fi.
Courtney Devereux travelled to the International Home + Housewares Show courtesy of the International Housewares Association.