Every movement begins with a moment.
Remember the days, way back when, when you would snag a piece of candy from the grocery store’s bulk bin or maybe a quick treat from the cookie jar at home? Did you ever get caught? And if you didn’t, did you still feel a little guilty? I always did. And I felt the same way this past weekend at the Apple Store.
Don’t get me wrong. I had no intention of stealing. But it was my aim to shop for and purchase a new iPhone case — here’s the key part — without any human assistance. That meant entering the Apple Store and (1) bypassing the aid of its swarming “Specialists,” (2) finding the perfect case pour moi, (3) purchasing it on my iPhone via Apple Store’s EasyPay self-checkout app and (4) walking out, victorious.
Let the adventure begin.
I walked boldly into the store and, maneuvering with well-timed brush-offs through a herd of Specialists, made a beeline for the cases. I began opening up boxes and trying cases on my iPhone. This, of course, drew the attention of at least three more Specialists, whom I politely informed should spend their time helping less mission-driven customers. (I mean, couldn’t they tell I didn’t want to have any human contact, let alone assistance, since I was heads down on my iPhone the whole time?)
When it came time to buy the case, I glanced around the store. There wasn’t any signage advertising the Apple Store’s EasyPay self-checkout app. And I know I’ve never seen one of those “There’s an app for that” TV ads touting its attributes. That’s when it dawned on me: If I weren’t in the industry, I’d probably have no clue that I could accomplish this transaction — from start to finish — completely with my smartphone. I made a mental note of this and continued on my EasyPay journey.
The first thing I had to do, since I didn’t have the app on my phone, was download it. (Side note: I was in a very busy Apple Store in a very busy mall, which means the wireless service wasn’t the fastest ever. I was forced to browse some Apple Watches for a bit — poor me, right? — while I watched the blue download timer work its way around.) Once downloaded, I began the purchase process. “Finally!,” I thought, “I can finish my trip into this crazy zoo of a store while ignoring all the nice people offering to help.”
The application was rather easy to use once I popped it open. The scanning functionality worked on the first attempt, and I was able to complete my purchase by only supplying the app with the security code on my Credit Card. (Thank goodness I have that memorized or I would have been forced to suffer through the inconvenience of pulling my wallet out of my pocket, removing my credit card and — oh, I’m so exhausted just thinking about it — reading the security code.) Thankfully, I had set up my credit card in Apple Pay before entering the store, too. I completed the transaction and — BINGO! — “Thanks, you’re all set.”
Okay, so now what? Do I just walk out the door with the new case on my phone and the box in hand? Should I get a Specialist’s attention first to make sure he or she knows that I am not stealing? But that defeats the purpose of no human contact. I decided to just walk out the door, and to my surprise, no one said a thing. Is this for real? That’s what conjured up that old feeling I had as a kid, sneaking a little piece of candy from the bulk bin and hoping I wouldn’t get caught.
So that, dear reader, was my Apple Store EasyPay self-checkout experience. Not the simplest in the world yet also not the most complicated. And now that I have everything set up on my phone, it will be probably easier and faster to go through this process next time. But how often does one go into the Apple Store to make a purchase? Is it worth it to go through this process — spend the extra time — or should I have sucked it up and just had someone help me?
Mobile device payments and self-checkout might be great in certain retailers and scenarios but not in others. I think we have to really analyze what benefit it brings to the company and to the customer. What’s the purpose of offering this option — convenience, coolness, shorter wait times, decreased staffing needs? Any analysis aside, mobile payments and self-checkout are definitely on the rise. As more retailers and m-commerce sites/apps incorporate the technology, the more the general public will begin to use them. I’m looking forward to seeing how these apps are adopted and — even more — to how they evolve with consumers’ ever-advancing demands for seamless, secure transactions.
Grocery Stores - are you listening? I'd love the ability to scan the items I purchase, place them in my reusable bag and walk out the front door to my vehicle.
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