It's been a long time since I've been to a physical Apple Store. Post-COVID-19, perhaps I'll reconsider this for precisely the same reason millions of other buyers might now forgo the brick and mortar stores temporarily or forever.
Apple stores long ago were designed for inclusiveness, allowing visitors the opportunity to play around with demo products before making a purchase. The built-in Genius Bars were another big part of the Apple retail experience, providing customers with on-hands technical support and advice. Finally, there were the free training sessions for novice and experts alike.
Apple's set to re-open up to 25 retail stores in the United States this week as coronavirus restrictions begin to ease. If those re-openings are anything like the ones Apple has already performed overseas, we can expect lots of social distancing, temperature checks, and limits to how many people are allowed in the stores at the same time. We'll also see deep cleaning of all surfaces, display products, and highly trafficked areas. And this says nothing about the masks everyone will be required to wear today and into the future.
It's excellent Apple has decided to start re-opening some of its stores, even with the restrictions in place. Looking ahead, everyone would benefit if many of these limits remain even after COVID-19 exits. Other changes would also be useful.
I never considered myself a germaphobe, but have always been nervous about visiting small spaces with lots of people. It's this reason alone that I rarely visited Apple retail stores in the past, instead choosing to make purchases online, and limiting visits to when I needed technical support only.
One of the ways Apple brings people into its stores is by offering demo tables where you can test new products. These beautifully designed wooden tables attract hundreds, sometimes thousands of visitors a day, depending on the store. Instead of deep cleaning these tables, Apple would be better off removing most of them, thereby limit the number of people visiting and making it healthier for everyone else.
The company might also want to consider dividing its stores into different areas using physical walls. For example, have an appointment-only section for those seeking technical support, and another for instruction. In the front, Apple could keep its sales operations going but without as many display tables.
The current restrictions will no doubt keep the number of visitors to Apple retail stores at bay. With these restrictions, I plan on visiting an Apple store soon and celebrate its reopening. I'll continue going if sensible limits remain. Otherwise, I'll go back online!
Are you planning on visiting an Apple retail store soon? Let us know the reasons for your decision below.