Apple experiments with Apple Express pickup window for faster shopping

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

Apple has started trialling a new Apple Store initiative called Apple Express, a streamlined pickup window for online orders.

9to5Mac shared the news of the new offering, which “resembles a bank teller window.” Apple Burlingame in California is the first store to offer Apple Express. However, if it’s a success, it seems likely that it could roll out to other Apple Stores at a later date.

The report notes that 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, 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 it 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 just to remain closed until the end of the month. They eventually began reopening in May. To protect customers from COVID-19, Apple has instituted various safety measures. These include temperature checks, social distancing and more.

However, changes like Apple Express show that Apple is also making decisions to reflect changing customer requirements. Apple Stores were built on the premise that they were spaces customers would want to go and hang out. Former Apple Store boss Angela Ahrendts explicitly referred to Apple Stores as “town squares” where people could meet and gather. Now 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.