A rare inside look inside Apple Retail and the company’s ‘Spot-the-Shopper’ technology

“A Black Friday visit to the Apple Store in Palo Alto, Calif., offered a glimpse of the new technology Apple is using to speed purchases,” Brian X. Chen reports for The New York Times.

“A store employee, Diego Aguirre, demonstrated an internal application running on iPod touches that, for the last few weeks, has had the ability to show the in-store location of a shopper who has come to pick up a purchase,” Chen reports. “An iPhone owner can use the free Apple Store app to shop before entering the store. When she arrives, the app’s location feature alerts store workers on their [iPod touch units], and they can find her and bring over her purchases.”

Chen reports, “Sixteen customers used the app’s location feature to claim gear at the Palo Alto store on Friday, Mr. Aguirre said.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


    1. And quite logical during the Holiday season. Apple needs to get customers who have already purchased out of the store as quickly as possible, to make room for other customers. 😉

  1. I knew about the customer side app and it’s functionality but I did not know that apple store employees are alerted when you enter the store to collect your purchase. Very cool and yes way ahead.

    1. I’ve been pushing hard for 3 years for my point-of-sale developers to implement Apple’s retail software (or very similar). They keep wanting to do the same ol’ desktop thing over and over.

      Most retail people just don’t get it. Sigh.

  2. The comments after the story were mainly from people sharing their real Apple Store experiences. Quite informative, and easy to see why Apple just keeps winning people over with not only the big things, but also (maybe especially?) with the small details.

  3. I believe the larger story is that both the technology mentioned in the article and the Apple app that lets a customer pick up his/her own merchandise and pay for it are elements of a new model for the retail trade.

    Once it’s been perfected at Apple stores, it can be rolled out to other retailers. It will allow them to streamline their operations (reduce the number of employees devoted to checking sales) and eallocate their resources to value-added activities such as helping customers. Customers will benefit not only from the better service, but also by avoiding lines at the cash register. To the extent this appeals to customers, they’ll do more shopping at stores using the Apple technology and less at other stores.

    Apple will benefit by providing the devices that shoppers require to take advantage of the new shopping experience.

    Samsung, HTC and Motorola/Google will benefit by having a new technology to copy … assuming that Apple hasn’t locked them out of the action by obtaining patents on key elements. (But even if it has, the other phone makers will find a way to respond, probably by pushing phones with NFC chips that communicate with credit card devices at checkout counters.)

  4. Very cool and forward thinking indeed!! As a relatively recent convert to Apple, I continue to admire their products and their ideas. My only quibble would be that they have stopped the availability of making an appointment ahead of time with a sales person online, this to me, was a great idea. When I was looking to go from the PC to the MAC a visit to the West Hartford, CT store
    was made so much easier by being able to “book” some time with a sales person. He was very, very helpful and I was really impressed when he said “I don’t expect you to make a buying decision on the spot”. I ended up with a 27″ iMAC, a 2 TB Time Capsule and have had not one problem with the setup and/or use. I was also able to obtain the new iPhone from the New Haven, CT store by going online the night before and reserving !one, that too was a very easy and seamless transition from my old cellphone. WELL DONE Apple

    1. Kevin in CT
      Welcome Kevin, the more you use your iMac the better it gets. One thing however, please use Mac vs. MAC and iMac vs. iMAC. You will learn about ZuneTang and his unethical use of the capital key on MDN.

  5. Of course, needing this technology requires that you have actual customers; Microsoft stores will be able to locate their one occasional customer by the drool dripping on the floor.

  6. Apple’s product design is done from the customer experience back toward Apple so that no one loses site of the user needs.

    Microsoft has still not grasped it. They design for IT Depts.

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