Apple’s physical retail stores started out with a traditional checkout register format that created long slow lines during peak buying seasons. Then, the stores started using mobile checkout devices based on, ironically, Microsoft Windows CE. More recently, Apple Store staff switched to specially equipped iPod touch units to take payments from anywhere in the store. The next step, according to BGR, starts tomorrow (Thursday), Nov. 3, when anyone with an iPhone (or, presumably an iPod touch or iPad) can order items for in-store pickup using an updated Apple Store app.
New Apple Store app launches Thursday; here’s how it will change Apple’s retail operations
The self-service doesn’t stop with ordering using the Apple Store app. BGR reports that the app will be able to provide self-service checkout for items on shelves of any Apple Store worldwide. The process is reported to entail taking a photo of the item, authorizing a charge to the credit card associated with the customer’s Apple ID and then walking out of the store without a purchase check by a Apple Store staff member. I don’t quite understand how Apple intends to prevent shoplifting in this scenario. However, it will be an interesting story to follow. If anyone tries this process on Thursday please tweet me or include me on a Google+ post about your experience.