Apple experiments with Apple Express pickup window for faster shopping

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Apple Burlingame 1
Apple Burlingame is the first Apple Store to trial the new feature.
Photo: Apple

Apple is testing a streamlined pickup window for online orders at one of its stores in Northern California. The new initiative, called Apple Express, could roll out to other Apple stores if it proves successful.

The pickup window at Apple Burlingame “resembles a bank teller window,” according to 9to5Mac. The report says the Apple Burlingame Express window lacks the “polish” of normal Apple offerings. That is most likely because Apple had to move quickly to introduce it. The Burlingame store window reportedly boasts a temporary wall, a wooden counter and plexiglass shields.

At present, it sounds like Apple Express is available only for picking up online orders, rather than walk-in shopping.

A challenging year for Apple Stores

Plenty of retail stores have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. Apple is certainly better placed than many smaller or independent stores to survive what has been an incredibly challenging year in retail. But the company has still suffered its shares of challenges.

Apple closed all its retail stores outside Greater China in March. At the time, the plan was for them to remain closed only until the end of the month. They eventually began reopening in May.

To protect customers from COVID-19, Apple instituted various safety measures at its retail stores. These include temperature checks, social distancing and even an Apple Face Mask designed by Cupertino’s finest for store employees.

However, changes like Apple Express show that Apple continues to make decisions to reflect changing customer requirements. Apple stores were built on the premise that customers would want to hang out in the spaces. Former Apple retail boss Angela Ahrendts explicitly referred to them as “town squares” where people could meet and gather. In the midst of a pandemic, that concept seems wholly at odds with many customers’ shopping demands.

Will things return to normal? Quite possibly. But in the meantime, Apple is making it easy for customers who don’t want a prolonged shopping experience to get the products they want.