Mobile app development has become a central tool for retailers world wide, and Apple is no exception.
In an interesting move of internal support, an Apple Store employee has developed an app to help employees better deal with customers who are coming in and out. Now with over three hundred retail store locations, the Apple Store has become a landmark of customer satisfaction and marketing genius. The locations, which act as both shopping and device support centers, are places that are often packed full and usually have customers with needs that go beyond a simple fact sheet. This means that you often have to make appointments, or will need extra assistance at the very least. This new app, which runs on the iPod Touch, will send notifications to employees when you have entered the Apple Store if you are there to pick up and item or for some other type of support. The idea is that you would make the appointment or notify the store ahead of time, and then your reminder system would allow the employees to be aware that you have entered and then they can get over to help you with your specific needs already in mind. The also will follow for the same principle when dealing with the iPad production descriptions in the store, and you can then call for employees right from the product you want assistance with.
The main reason for this app, as stated by the employee, is that it allows employees to streamline the process without harassing the customers as they come in. The process can then have both the benefits of personal interaction in an actual retail location, but with the specificity and control of the online experience. Since Apple Store employees are already using these mobile devices, and most of their customers have branched in this direction as well, it seems like the logical adjustment. This new advance is going to change the experience quite a bit, however, and it will likely require a substantial change in store protocol and training. It may being to also shift customer expectations, creating a consumer rift between the Apple Store and similar enterprises.
There have been some concerns over privacy, especially from the possible marketing applications it could have. Since tools like RFID have been used for tracking customer behavior in store and purchasing patterns, theoretically the same could be said about the communication app. There have been no suggestions from Apple that it would be used in this way and the development of it had not advertising component in mind, so for now it is safe to assume that this will be strictly based around productivity in the consumer setting.