Steve Jobs, hoping to heighten shopper experiences, began experimenting with touchpoints early on in the evolution of Apple, according to his biographer. His first attempt was a cyber café, an idea built around demonstrating Apple products. But that proved unworkable with the mix of fresh hot coffee, sticky Danish and sensitive computer hardware.
Nonetheless, many say the experiment led to the retail stores, which put the user experience right into Jobs’ hands–with an aim to convert browsers into buyers.
From the customer-user vantage, the stores are like eye candy, computer playgrounds with stations open to anyone to sit alone and poke and probe the merchandise. Each store is carefully designed to spark imaginations. From the layout to the flow, customers can expect high ceilings, low work tables, and a grid-pattern flow running from front to back that is designed to be inviting.
Sometimes there’s greenery in the corners and walls covered with large image displays, showing users making and enjoying music, videos, music, and photographs. Besides the internal influencers, many of the retail locations are inside iconic structures for a feel of the locale.
Each component of the experience is a communications node, a touchpoint for communicating and sometimes for feedback, all contributing to the desire for ‘the’ Apple lifestyle, being part of an exclusive community that includes die-hards–all available for purchase.
In contrast to most other computer and software manufacturers who have designed their products around ease of business tasks, the Apple brand is closely associated with exploration, knowledge and self-expression.
And whether by design or not, Apple product releases are highly sought after, sometimes with long lines of customers lining up outside stores days before the products are available.
Some may ask, “why the fuss?” when the products can be bought any other time. The answer may well lie in how Jobs inserted messages into every customer interaction through touchpoints, including the packaging and shopping bags, for crafting the most unique of user experiences.
For service design resources (books, online courses, and workshops) or to stay connected: www.internationalservicedesigninstitute.com