Apple Ends Personal Shopping Service in Stores

November 2, 2010

As part of the expected rush of holiday shoppers, and a change in philosophy on serving customers, Apple has quietly ended its free Personal Shopping service that provided appointment-based product demonstrations and selection assistance. 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 (former 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.  Previously, store visitors who wanted help in selecting and trying out Apple products could make an on-line appointment at any store up to 14 days in advance. Visitors would then arrive, check in, and then, “take all the time you need to test-drive the products you’re interested in.” The former Web page also noted that the service was, “All with no pressure—there’s no obligation to buy.” Now, those needing product demo and selection help will be assisted by the regular Red Zone staff. Update: The change is slightly more subtle: Apple store employees will still offer demo and purchase assistance as available, but as part of their normal customer assistance duties. However, the “Personal Shopping” name and reservation service have been eliminated.

The original menu (left) for individual stores showed Personal Shopping in the second position. That option is no longer displayed (right).

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lucas November 2, 2010 at 1510

This headline is a bit off. Yes they dropped the online sign up etc. but You can still go in and get the same service on the spot (or after a short wait if it is crowded) any time. And there’s never a pressure to buy.

So really they aren’t dropping the service. THey are just dropping the notion that you have to sign up before you come to the store.

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Gary November 2, 2010 at 1856

Thanks for the clarification. I’m left wondering how store visitors will know such a service is available.

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Jared V November 3, 2010 at 1746

It seems that they are trying to focus more on personal service without an appointment. They now seem to be trying to use the Apple Store app to initiate and track the on the spot shopping sessions.

The problem with Personal Shopping from the beginning was that people didn’t know it existed and/or didn’t want to commit to anything(even though it was very expressly stated that there was no obligation). Most stores tried to sign people up for Personal Shopping appointments as they came in the store to boost their apparent “adoption” of the service, as appointments booked from home were minimal.

Their new approach (“Requesting assistance from a Specialist” from the Apple Store app) may be more successful, as it definitely makes the experience much less formal. The downside, obviously, is that it requires the customer to already own an Apple product(specifically an iPhone or iPod Touch).

On the face of it, though, this new strategy seems like it will be more widely adopted by customers, and is better designed to actually accomplish what it is intended for.

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Joseph November 2, 2010 at 2121

This is great because my store used to open at 8:00 AM, but changed months back to 10:00 AM unless you scheduled a personal shopping appointment. I was frustrated on the phone one morning because I couldn’t get in without an appointment — he offered to schedule me an appointment but I declined because that would seem awkward with so little people there.

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