Apple launched a redesign of their website today, integrating the product presentation and shopping experiences into one and tweaking the navigation bar with different menu items and icons.
Notably, the separate store.apple.com website is no more, as it now simply leads to apple.com with store pages available at apple.com/shop/ URLs.
As John Gruber writes:
Knowing what I know about the old online store, this was a massive behind-the-scenes undertaking, but the result looks and works like what most people would have expected all along. (Someone should count the instances of “finally” in the headlines about this change.) The old two-site approach was like having separate rooms in a physical retail store — a showroom up front, and a sales room in the back. Now it’s just one room. (And in another subtle parallel to the physical Apple stores, the website now uses a shopping bag instead of a cart.)
Speaking to TechCrunch, an Apple spokesperson explained why the company decided to make this change:
“We redesigned Apple.com knowing that our customers want to explore, research and shop in one place,” said an Apple spokesperson in a statement. “The new Apple.com takes the very best of our existing site and our online store to give customers one simple destination to learn and buy without navigating between two different sites. We’ve also improved several of the site’s features to make shopping easier than ever for our customers.”
The updated website will likely make for an easier shopping flow – especially on smartphones – as there's less switching contexts between viewing and buying because everything's integrated. It'll be interesting to see if updating the store with new products will still require Apple to bring the store down, or if they will appear and propagate for everyone across the world like the new website did today. Probably a good change, but let's pour one out for Is The Apple Store Down.
Gary Allen announced on Friday that he would stop writing new articles for ifo Apple Store, the website he has been running for 14 years. Over the years, Allen and ifo Apple Store has became an invaluable resource for news, data and analysis relating to Apple's rapidly expanding retail efforts.
After following Apple retail for 14 years, I’ve reached a happy ending, and am gracefully backing away from the crazy world of following the company and its stores. No more stories or analysis, or flying out to far-flung locations to join overnight crowds,waiting for the excitement of new store opening (NSO). I began this Web site as simply a way of celebrating the fun of grand openings and the close friendship of the people I met when I arrived in a new country or city. My first overnight camp-out was with my son Devin on the sidewalk in front of the epic Palo Alto store in October 2001, I continued to other store openings with him in China, Australia, UK and other countries. I’ve visited over 140 stores around the world.
ifo Apple Store has been in my RSS feed for many of those years and I am genuinely sad to hear that Allen is winding down operations. Many of the articles I've written about Apple's retail operations have been informed in some way by the work done by Allen. That includes this article from late-2012 on Apple's Retail Expansion, which is one of the articles I am most proud of, and it probably wouldn't exist without ifo Apple Store.
Thank you, Gary Allen. We wish you all the best.
ifoAppleStore's Gary Allen has posted photos of the new back-lit wall graphics Apple has begun installing at selected retail stores, noting the change of mood from previous wall graphics:
The new graphics were photographed like magazine ads, showing the iPad/iPhone being used in actual situations, complete with their surrounding people and places. Their colors, tone and brightness is much richer and darker than the previous graphics, a noticeable difference that’s been the subject of Tweets and other on-line postings by store employees and visitors.
I don't know if this is one of the first results of Angela Ahrendts' work, but I like the lifestyle approach. Showing what you can do with a product is, I think, a more powerful (and relatable) message than a product closeup shot, especially when you're inside an Apple Store and the product is already there on a table.
Apple has launched a brand new version of their Apple Store app for the iPad, bringing their online digital storefront to iOS 7. Just like the iPhone app, you can browse through all of the Apple Store's available listings for backpacks, accessories, and Apple products; customize products like iPod touches and iPads with engraving and add gift wrapping at checkout; and explore products using gestures to zoom and browse. Unlike the iPhone app, however, Mashable writes that the app brings some new functionality to the big screen.
Many features baked into the iPad app don't appear on the existing iPhone app version, like highlighting products trending on the site based not only purchases, but also reviews. It also draws attention to a slew of products, not just iPads and iPhones, like the Anki Drive racing game, headphones and a connected basketball. The app is also rich with filtering capabilities, including colors and price.
The Apple Store for iPad app is separate from the iPhone version, likely due to new features and to accommodate iPads that don't have cellular capabilities. Download the app for free from the App Store.
Much like visiting Starbucks and picking up a free song, the Apple Store is now distributing their own freebies. This week it's an app called Color Zen, which shows up in the Apple Store app alongside the store's information. If you're at home, the app just shows up in the list of things that Apple is currently featuring. Mark Gurman from 9to5Mac writes that it's an incentive to get people to download the app.
We previously reported that Apple Store employees are instructed to install this application on a new iOS Device during Personal Setup (After a purchase). At an internal event in San Francisco last month, Tim Cook revealed that only a small percentage of Apple customers are aware of the app, but Cook wants to use the app as an element of his plan to boost iPhone sales in his stores.
Apple opened its first retail stores on May 19, 2001 - one in Virginia and the other in California. In the Steve Jobs biography, author Walter Isaacson wrote how Jobs had wanted Apple to have its own stores so that their iMacs didn't have to "sit on a shelf between a Dell and a Compaq while an uninformed clerk recited the specs of each". Despite initial criticisms and comparisons to Gateway's failed retail stores, Apple Stores not only continue to exist today, but are regarded as one of Apple’s greatest innovations - one that now contributes to more than 10% of Apple's revenue.
"Unless we could find ways to get our message to customers at the store, we were screwed." - Steve Jobs
I've previously written about the coverage of Apple's entertainment services in international markets (including how they compare to Google, Microsoft and Amazon), so I was similarly intrigued by how Apple's stores have expanded into countries outside the US. Whilst researching all this, I came across other questions such as whether Apple had a particular preference for when they opened new stores and how the expansion of their retail network would affect visitors and profits. What I have found isn't particularly groundbreaking, but there are certainly some trends and fascinating tidbits that I've come across, all of which is detailed below the break.
A note to RSS readers: This article includes an HTML5 diagram that likely won't display in your reader, view this post in your browser (it works on iOS devices) to view that diagram. Apologies for the inconvenience.
As the iPhone 5 begins its international rollout, lines have begun forming at Apple retail stores in preparation of tomorrow’s launch.
The iPhone 5, announced at a media event on September 12, will go on sale tomorrow at 8 am in nine countries: US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The iPhone 5 is a major upgrade from the iPhone 4S: it features a taller, 4-inch screen, a faster processor, an improved camera, better audio, and a thinner, lighter design with an aluminum back and glass inlays. Apple launched online pre-orders for the device last Friday, and in the first 24 hours the iPhone 5 topped two million pre-orders.
As we've done for every recent Apple product launch, we’re collecting some of the best photos and videos of customers waiting in line at their Apple stores. We’ll be updating this post throughout the next 24 hours; come back later for the latest updates and photos from around the globe.
If you want to send us photos or videos from your local Apple store, send us an email at: tips at macstories.net
Apple Testing New Genius Bar Layout
Gary Allen writes about a new Genius Bar layout over at ifoAppleStore:
The designers’ solution to Genius Bar crowds was to pivot the GB table by 90-degrees so that it’s perpendicular to the rear wall of the store, and to eliminate the iconic kids seats and tables. A photo of the new set-up has surfaced showing a tall, 10-foot long wood counter at the rear of a store, with black stools on both sides. The table is set about 15 inches out from the rear wall of the store to allow employees to move from one side to another.
Often referred to as the "heart and soul" of an Apple retail store, the Genius Bar has come a long way since the floating notebooks for support staff and iPod-oriented questions and repairs. As Apple has evolved as a company and revamped its product line over the years, the Genius Bar has consequently changed to accommodate new kind of customers, questions, and, ultimately, devices -- on both sides of the Bar. Customers' details are now entirely managed on iPads, check-ins happen through a dedicated iPad app, and even signatures and machine information are being stored inside custom iPad software made for retail.
It's rare to see a Mac at the Genius Bar these days, and perhaps the new layout is just another sign of the times.
The Apple Store app for the iPhone has enabled Apple to revolutionize retail and mobile shopping shopping thanks to features such EasyPay, Personal Pickup, and assistance from the store's Specialists. In today's 2.2 update, Apple has added Express Checkout and new location features which focuses on online shoppers and customers picking their orders up from their nearest Apple Retail Store.
Express Checkout speeds up the process of making purchases through Apple's online store by using your existing payment and shipping options. You can simply complete your order by tapping on the buy button for the items you want to purchase, selecting your options (if applicable), and checking out, then entering the password associated with your Apple ID. You'll have to sign into Express Checkout through your Account Settings in the Apple Store app (on each device), and agree to the terms of service to use the quick pay feature. A FAQ for Express Checkout is available for your perusal online.
If you have an iPhone 4S and are picking up a purchased item from your local Apple Retail Store, your device can let the specialists know you're arriving so that your items are ready for pickup before you reach the storefront. By enabling Location-Based Alerts and setting your pick up information in the Account Settings, items for pick up will be waiting for you to carry out when you reach your Apple Retail Store.
The Apple Store 2.2 update is available on the App Store as a free update and download.
Edit 4:03 pm: Edited title to clarify that faster, location-based pickups are not a part of Express Checkout, but a separate feature available on the iPhone 4S.