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Apple pilots Express store concept for easy pickup of online orders

Apple is trialing a new retail store format geared for fast and easy pickup of online orders with safety in mind. The concept design furthers Apple’s comprehensive response to COVID-19 and may help effectively serve customers during a busy upcoming season of new product launches.

Apple Burlingame in Burlingame, California is the first location to pilot what Apple calls “Express,” a simplified version of the Apple Store experience that resembles a bank teller window. Apple has partitioned off the entryway to the store with a temporary wall, wood counters, and plexiglass shields to serve customers at. Two sets of shelving display popular accessories available to purchase. 

The retrofit fixtures are made of basic materials without the normal level of Apple polish, but the customer experience exceeds what Apple has been able to offer at many store locations that have reopened for curbside or appointment-only service. Customers with existing online orders can simply walk up to the counter and collect their purchase. Genius Bar appointments are served at a second counter. Only one customer per counter is allowed in the store’s entry, and walk-in shopping is not available at this time.

Apple has rapidly transformed the Apple Store experience since the onset of the pandemic, first closing and then reopening nearly all of its stores at least once this year. While just under three quarters of Apple Stores in the US will have reopened as of September 15, many locations continue to rely on service by appointment only. In July, Apple rolled out the ability to book a session to Shop with a Specialist for guaranteed, one-on-one service is a less crowded environment.

There’s no indication at the moment if more Apple Store locations will be converted to Express Pickup layouts to accommodate future product launches. Apple did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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