Apple opens virtual online storefront experience as most retail locations remain closed

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Not knowing when most of its retail stores will reopen worldwide, Apple re-organizes content virtually to ease the load.
Photo: Apple

With most of its brick-and-mortar locations closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Apple launched Friday an online virtual services store focused on helping customers find and complete no-contact purchases and educate users through on-demand videos. The idea was created in conjunction with SheerID to help retain and acquire new customers through the health crisis.

Titled “Everything you love about our stores is online,” the new hub is linked from the home page of Apple.com and accessible at apple.com/shop.

The virtual store has sections to get specialist support, details about no-contact delivery, information on financing, and how to trade in older Apple products for credit.

There is nothing new in terms of products or services on the new virtual store that wasn’t already available at apple.com, but instead are more centralized in one place for easier access. Much of the new hub is meant to facilitate the tracking of purchases and get after-sales help and support.

‘Today at Apple’ goes virtual ‘at Home’

The Genius Bar is also available on the hub, as is a ‘Today at Apple at Home’ section, letting users view pre-recorded learning videos remotely from home.

Since February, when all of its retail locations outside China closed, Apple has been producing behind-the-scenes, on-demand videos of specialists conducting the online equivalent of live, in-person classes and demonstrations.

Apple has released a series of initially six videos with specialists explaining everything from making videos more cinematic on the iPhone, to drawing playful portraits with iPad.

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The new online equivalent of ‘Today At Apple’ teaches various topics virtually.
Photo: Apple

Specialists from Apple Store locations all over the world – ranging from London, to Singapore, to Boston – reportedly put together videos from their homes ranging in length from three minutes to five.

The website says more videos will be added over time.

Apple closed virtually all it retail stores outside China March 14, as a result of the global pandemic. Since then, it has open a handful of stores around the world, including two stores in South Korea, one store in Vienna, Austria on May 5, and 21 of its 22 stores throughout Australia on May 7.

In a very controlled fashion, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook told Bloomberg in late April that the company would “look at the data” and make decisions on reopening Apple Stores “city by city, county by county, depending on the circumstances in that particular place.”