Apple Discontinues 'Personal Shopping' Service in Retail Stores

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Old (left) and new (right) options for retail store reservations
ifoAppleStore reports that Apple has quietly discontinued its "Personal Shopping" service that had enabled customers to make appointments at Apple retail stores for one-on-one assistance with testing out and purchasing Apple products.
All references to the service have been erased from the company's Web site, and the Personal Shopping link now re-directs surfers to the main Retail page. Individual stores pages and the Apple Store app have also been updated. According to sources, the change became effective yesterday and stems from the belief that every customer should receive the same attention and amount of service.
Introduced in mid-2007 as part of a broader revamp of its retail store support, training, and purchasing programs, Personal Shopping had allowed customers to schedule appointments up to 14 days in advance and ensure the attention of a retail store Specialist to assist them in a no-commitment arrangement.

Article Link: Apple Discontinues 'Personal Shopping' Service in Retail Stores
 

Xenu007

macrumors member
Mar 19, 2008
68
0
So we can all suffer the crowds

Because every customer should suffer the crowded DMV atmosphere that has become the status quo in every Apple Store. :mad:
 

3N16MA

macrumors 65816
Jul 23, 2009
1,011
177
Space
I had completely forgotten that this service even existed. I usually know more about a product that I am about to buy than any retail employee. Even is they have some phony "specialist" tag or whatever they call them.
 

jimsowden

macrumors 68000
Sep 6, 2003
1,766
16
NY
When I worked there a year ago, there was a big push because of the waining interest in the personal shops - pretty much on life support at that time. The sad thing was, the people where were full time personal shoppers blamed themselves for it not being that popular. Reality is most people just want to pop round and get someone right away. Apple might want to focus on how everyone who wants to talk to someone can at any time.
 

irun5k

macrumors 6502
Jan 14, 2005
379
0
Yeah, I'm thinking nobody ever used this.

Maybe I'm wrong though. While I know every Apple product backwards and forwards, what if you're 70 years old and need something to "check email."

All the people in an Apple store might be pretty intimidating for that kind of person. Maybe the personal shopping should be been before or after public store hours? Ah, still probably wouldn't have gotten used.
 

Small White Car

macrumors G4
Aug 29, 2006
10,923
1,230
Washington DC
So it's gone? Ok, so what?

If I go into an Apple store and ask about an iMac they're still gonna tell me about it even if I didn't sign up for this. No wonder people didn't use it. Who wants to go on a website to sign up for something you'll get anyway?
 

JeffDM

macrumors 6502a
Sep 16, 2006
709
9
The program probably would have been pretty useful to Apple Retail if more people used it. One thing would be nice is more specific information as to how busy the store is at a given time. If I knew that a certain time of a certain day is a lot better than a different time that day, I might alter my schedule. The site has very vague recommendations as it is.
 

HLdan

macrumors 603
Aug 22, 2007
6,383
0
If Apple blocked the computers so all those teens wouldn't be able to just come in there and use the place as an internet cafe they would certainly have enough room for people that genuinely need personal shopping help. :p
 

SilvorX

macrumors 68000
May 24, 2002
1,701
0
'Toba, Canada
If Apple blocked the computers so all those teens wouldn't be able to just come in there and use the place as an internet cafe they would certainly have enough room for people that genuinely need personal shopping help. :p
That's exactly it. I made a visit (one of my only ones, so far) to the closest Apple Store, and there was a group of 15 year olds all using the iMacs (well, who we kidding, all the computers) and an Apple employee asked one of the kids if they would mind stepping aside for a few minutes so she can show a customer an iMac, the kid entirely ignored her, continued to browse facebook.
 

xxgilxx

macrumors regular
Jul 13, 2010
122
0
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/532.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.5 Mobile/8B117 Safari/6531.22.7)

Wednesdays at 1000 am. That's when you go to the apple store
 

KPOM

macrumors P6
Oct 23, 2010
15,396
3,838
This sounds like a cost cutting move. It's expensive to hire associates to provide "one on one" assistance. That, and Apple is probably pretty confident that they have a lineup that will sell itself over the holidays. Lowering the price of the MacBook Air to $1,000 seems to have hit the sweet spot, for instance.
 

dotnsk

macrumors newbie
Aug 18, 2010
26
0
Sonoran Desert
Because every customer should suffer the crowded DMV atmosphere that has become the status quo in every Apple Store. :mad:
I know most Apple Stores are crowded these days, but there *are* things you can do to alleviate the wait.

1. Don't shop from 12-5pm and 7pm-close on Saturday. There's usually a lull between 5ish and 7ish when people get dinner/catch a show, so if you MUST go shopping on a weekend, that's your "window."

2. Don't shop on Sunday. Period. This isn't a religious thing--after three years in retail, I can safely say that Sunday crowds are the worst. Sundays are busier in a different way than Saturdays; Sunday shoppers want lots of individual attention but are less likely to buy. This ties up employees in longer transactions, resulting in longer wait times for you.

3. When it comes to weekdays, Apple's website is right--shop early, shop late. Stores are busiest between noon and three (when people are on their lunch break) and tend to calm down quite a bit after 5. Beware: there may be a rush after 7pm, or there may not. Depends entirely on the day.

4. Be patient. :) If you stress or worry about the environment, you're going to react poorly to it because you've already prepared for it to be a negative experience. This advice goes triple for the upcoming holiday season.

5. If everyone is with a customer, look around and see if you can discern who will be free next OR (better yet) find a transaction that looks similar to what you're after (buying an iPad? Find an iPad transaction. Looking to purchase the case in your hand? Queue up behind someone who's doing a similar quick transaction). Most of the time the staff is capable of handling your needs, sometimes by including you in their current conversation or by letting you know that they'll help you next.

6. When in doubt, tap someone on the shoulder and ASK where you can find help. So many people get frustrated because they don't get approached, but often times it's because we're so busy and we see SO many customers that we don't always notice YOU and your lost look. Be proactive! Just a simple, "hey, I know you're busy, but when you're done I'd like to ask you about X" or "can you point me in the direction of a cash register?" will suffice.

7. (and MOST importantly) PLEASE respect the staff. They're there to help you, and I can assure you that they're generally doing the best they can (ESPECIALLY in an Apple Store). Retail wages are not very high, and the employees put up with an inordinate amount of BS from shoppers who are downright cruel. In retail and food service, we are all human beings with feelings, and a little respect can go a LONG way. I was much more willing to bend over backwards for someone who respected me than someone who was rude.

These suggestions are derived simply from my work in retail rather than work specifically at Apple. No matter where I worked, these held true.

Happy shopping. :)
 

iJandro

macrumors regular
Oct 13, 2010
155
80
San Francisco, CA
That actually does make a lot of sense. When I was working at the apple store, it was never that big of a deal. A lot of the times, people mistakened it for a genius bar type of service...
 

dotnsk

macrumors newbie
Aug 18, 2010
26
0
Sonoran Desert
This sounds like a cost cutting move. It's expensive to hire associates to provide "one on one" assistance. That, and Apple is probably pretty confident that they have a lineup that will sell itself over the holidays. Lowering the price of the MacBook Air to $1,000 seems to have hit the sweet spot, for instance.
Nah. A computer transaction will take about the same amount of time whether it's scheduled or not (between 35 minutes to an hour, depending on how many questions the buyer has). The way the Personal Shopping program was explained to me is that you're scheduled with an associate, but that they didn't specifically DO just appointments all day. If they had a free hour, they helped on the floor just like anyone else.

Apple's traditional use of an "express shopping zone" in their retail stores during holiday suggests that personal shopping didn't even factor into their holiday quarter. People want to get in and get out with their gifts, not chat about them for an hour. I'd imagine this service is being discontinued purely because customers weren't using it, even after a three-year presence.
 

ArcaneDevice

macrumors 6502a
Nov 10, 2003
762
179
outside the crazy house, NC
It's a computer store. People do not book appointments to shop for a computer. Booking an appointment for anything is a chore as it is, consumers want to be able to walk in when they feel like it and get assistance.

I hate shopping in Apple stores as it is. It's like a mass free-for-all of people trying to flag down sales staff. Apple want to be different don't they? So instead of designated tech support areas and sales registers you get the Genius Bar with a line of random people who want tech support, sales attention and just general questions.

They wouldn't need sales appointments if the purpose of the floor staff was purely advice.
 

ArcaneDevice

macrumors 6502a
Nov 10, 2003
762
179
outside the crazy house, NC
I know most Apple Stores are crowded these days, but there *are* things you can do to alleviate the wait.
I find the best solution is don't shop at an Apple Store unless you are buying a new Mac.

For everything else go online or to your local big box retailer and you can get what you need in less time at a lower price.

5. If everyone is with a customer, look around and see if you can discern who will be free next OR (better yet) find a transaction that looks similar to what you're after (buying an iPad? Find an iPad transaction. Looking to purchase the case in your hand? Queue up behind someone who's doing a similar quick transaction). Most of the time the staff is capable of handling your needs, sometimes by including you in their current conversation or by letting you know that they'll help you next.
That sums up everything that's wrong with Apple Stores.

You shouldn't have to play detective and Where's Waldo or imagine you are at a car dealer to buy an iPod case.
 

dotnsk

macrumors newbie
Aug 18, 2010
26
0
Sonoran Desert
Good stuff, dont need some spotty nose unshaven teenager telling me jack **** about anything Mac. My experience is that they usually get their supervisor for anything more difficult than 'Wheres the power switch?' and forever calling me 'mate' or 'dude'.
I hate to call you out specifically, but this is the type of attitude that people in retail absolutely loathe. Apple actually trains their staff very well, and the few times I've asked them a question they didn't immediately know the answer to, it was found within a matter of minutes. Don't let your prejudice about hipster teenagers alter your perception of their knowledge. You might be surprised about what they know (and what you don't!) :)

I used to work in the tech industry (in retail, though not specifically Apple Retail), and the number of times that I got told I knew a lot "for a girl" or was deliberately ignored for one of my male coworkers (who, more often than not, would just turn to me for the answer anyway) was frustrating and demeaning, not to mention blatantly disrespectful.

My advice? If you don't like the staff at your particular store, submit a constructive comment to the management and, if it's not resolved, shop online.
 

kingtj

macrumors 68030
Oct 23, 2003
2,601
744
Brunswick, MD
Exactly!

Look at how successful hair salons became when they started advertising "No appointment needed! Drop right in!" We now have numerous Great Clips, Fantastic Sams, and Custom Cuts stores all over town because they use that business model.

When I'm going shopping, I'm doing it on MY terms, because I'm the one spending the money! You, the retailer, need MY business - so I expect you'll do what retail stores are supposed to do and be open for business and available throughout a large time-window, every day of the week.

I mean, I do realize someone at Apple probably came up with this shopping appointment thing as a way to make the whole experience seem more "up-scale". (Usually, you only schedule appointments for bigger or more important events -- so they were hoping for a tie-in there.) But in reality, it doesn't do much good. The typical Mac shopper doesn't want to have to wait for some pre-arranged appointment time to make a purchase!


It's a computer store. People do not book appointments to shop for a computer. Booking an appointment for anything is a chore as it is, consumers want to be able to walk in when they feel like it and get assistance.

I hate shopping in Apple stores as it is. It's like a mass free-for-all of people trying to flag down sales staff. Apple want to be different don't they? So instead of designated tech support areas and sales registers you get the Genius Bar with a line of random people who want tech support, sales attention and just general questions.

They wouldn't need sales appointments if the purpose of the floor staff was purely advice.
 

dotnsk

macrumors newbie
Aug 18, 2010
26
0
Sonoran Desert
I find the best solution is don't shop at an Apple Store unless you are buying a new Mac.

For everything else go online or to your local big box retailer and you can get what you need in less time at a lower price.



That sums up everything that's wrong with Apple Stores.

You shouldn't have to play detective and Where's Waldo or imagine you are at a car dealer to buy an iPod case.
I'm curious as to how you'd resolve this, though. The status quo is that Apple Stores get a LOT of traffic, and oftentimes their sales staff is completely engaged. It takes five seconds to look around and see who might be free next. Why is that so difficult?

The last four times I've gone in to buy accessories at the Apple Store (they honestly have the best ones, and I hate waiting for shipping, plus I'm never home to sign for anything) I did exactly what I suggested. I picked out my accessory, looked for someone who was currently purchasing an accessory, and stood 'in line' behind them. In and out in five minutes (not counting the time I spent looking around).
 
I know most Apple Stores are crowded these days, but there *are* things you can do to alleviate the wait.

1. Don't shop from 12-5pm and 7pm-close on Saturday. There's usually a lull between 5ish and 7ish when people get dinner/catch a show, so if you MUST go shopping on a weekend, that's your "window."

2. Don't shop on Sunday. Period. This isn't a religious thing--after three years in retail, I can safely say that Sunday crowds are the worst. Sundays are busier in a different way than Saturdays; Sunday shoppers want lots of individual attention but are less likely to buy. This ties up employees in longer transactions, resulting in longer wait times for you.

3. When it comes to weekdays, Apple's website is right--shop early, shop late. Stores are busiest between noon and three (when people are on their lunch break) and tend to calm down quite a bit after 5. Beware: there may be a rush after 7pm, or there may not. Depends entirely on the day.

4. Be patient. :) If you stress or worry about the environment, you're going to react poorly to it because you've already prepared for it to be a negative experience. This advice goes triple for the upcoming holiday season.

5. If everyone is with a customer, look around and see if you can discern who will be free next OR (better yet) find a transaction that looks similar to what you're after (buying an iPad? Find an iPad transaction. Looking to purchase the case in your hand? Queue up behind someone who's doing a similar quick transaction). Most of the time the staff is capable of handling your needs, sometimes by including you in their current conversation or by letting you know that they'll help you next.

6. When in doubt, tap someone on the shoulder and ASK where you can find help. So many people get frustrated because they don't get approached, but often times it's because we're so busy and we see SO many customers that we don't always notice YOU and your lost look. Be proactive! Just a simple, "hey, I know you're busy, but when you're done I'd like to ask you about X" or "can you point me in the direction of a cash register?" will suffice.

7. (and MOST importantly) PLEASE respect the staff. They're there to help you, and I can assure you that they're generally doing the best they can (ESPECIALLY in an Apple Store). Retail wages are not very high, and the employees put up with an inordinate amount of BS from shoppers who are downright cruel. In retail and food service, we are all human beings with feelings, and a little respect can go a LONG way. I was much more willing to bend over backwards for someone who respected me than someone who was rude.

These suggestions are derived simply from my work in retail rather than work specifically at Apple. No matter where I worked, these held true.

Happy shopping. :)
Apple stores wouldnt be so bad if they would simply ban all social websites such as facebook. That way the whole place wouldnt be suddenly awash with chavs and screaming teenage girls talkin ****. its been known also that people will actually go there, commandeer a ****in desktop and start doing there office work **** too. Read that somewhere about the Regent street store London.

If i was ever annoying in a shop back in my youth the polite shop owner would kindly remind me that if i wasnt buying anything after 10mins then **** off. Its kids that cause the problem for the stores because of all the free access to the net. They should have those collars attached to them that where in the Running Man and that if they cross the threshold their heads blow off. Done. problem solved.
 

citi

macrumors 65816
May 2, 2006
1,363
508
Simi Valley, CA
I know most Apple Stores are crowded these days, but there *are* things you can do to alleviate the wait.

1. Don't shop from 12-5pm and 7pm-close on Saturday. There's usually a lull between 5ish and 7ish when people get dinner/catch a show, so if you MUST go shopping on a weekend, that's your "window."

2. Don't shop on Sunday. Period. This isn't a religious thing--after three years in retail, I can safely say that Sunday crowds are the worst. Sundays are busier in a different way than Saturdays; Sunday shoppers want lots of individual attention but are less likely to buy. This ties up employees in longer transactions, resulting in longer wait times for you.

3. When it comes to weekdays, Apple's website is right--shop early, shop late. Stores are busiest between noon and three (when people are on their lunch break) and tend to calm down quite a bit after 5. Beware: there may be a rush after 7pm, or there may not. Depends entirely on the day.

4. Be patient. :) If you stress or worry about the environment, you're going to react poorly to it because you've already prepared for it to be a negative experience. This advice goes triple for the upcoming holiday season.

5. If everyone is with a customer, look around and see if you can discern who will be free next OR (better yet) find a transaction that looks similar to what you're after (buying an iPad? Find an iPad transaction. Looking to purchase the case in your hand? Queue up behind someone who's doing a similar quick transaction). Most of the time the staff is capable of handling your needs, sometimes by including you in their current conversation or by letting you know that they'll help you next.

6. When in doubt, tap someone on the shoulder and ASK where you can find help. So many people get frustrated because they don't get approached, but often times it's because we're so busy and we see SO many customers that we don't always notice YOU and your lost look. Be proactive! Just a simple, "hey, I know you're busy, but when you're done I'd like to ask you about X" or "can you point me in the direction of a cash register?" will suffice.

7. (and MOST importantly) PLEASE respect the staff. They're there to help you, and I can assure you that they're generally doing the best they can (ESPECIALLY in an Apple Store). Retail wages are not very high, and the employees put up with an inordinate amount of BS from shoppers who are downright cruel. In retail and food service, we are all human beings with feelings, and a little respect can go a LONG way. I was much more willing to bend over backwards for someone who respected me than someone who was rude.

These suggestions are derived simply from my work in retail rather than work specifically at Apple. No matter where I worked, these held true.

Happy shopping. :)
One more thing. Use a credit card (or checkcard) to pay for your transaction. If you do it that way, you don't have to wait at all. Find the person with a ipod touch that looks like a 1980 cell phone. They'll even email you your receipt.
 

hayesk

macrumors 65816
May 20, 2003
1,439
74
I was forced to make a Personal Shopper appointment to buy my iPhone 4. Not sure why they couldn't just get one and let me wait for the next available staff member. Maybe there were a limited number who knew how to activate it.
 
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