Saturday, June 21, 2008

Paperless Apple Stores

Great experience at my local Apple Store last night. I had to get some accessories for my iPhone, so I picked up my item, and headed to the cashwrap/Genius Bar. An intelligent employee saw my purposeful stride, and stepped out from behind the counter to ask if I was all set; I said yes, and he whipped out his PDA, accepted my card, scanned the barcode of my item, and we were all set.

This experience is not new; Apple has intelligently deployed these mobile checkout units for some time now. What happened next was a delight: the employee handed me my card back, and asked if I would prefer a printed receipt, or would I like it emailed to me? I happily replied that email was preferable, and he looked at his screen. "Well, looks like we don't have your email address on file; if you give it to me, I'll make sure we can send this and all future receipts to you." I did, and he associated it with the credit card I used. Within moments, my receipt appeared as a PDF attachment to an email in my inbox. Wow.

Why is this so great? First, you all know my particular hatred for the antiquated reliance on paper receipts. Second, I use Google Apps for Domain for my email; that means this receipt is now searchable in Gmail. If I ever need it, instead of groping around piles of yellowing paper, or trying to look through thousands of scanned images, I can just use Gmail to look for the very thing I want, and find my receipt in a second. Not to mention it finally brings physical retail to the level of convenience of ecommerce.

Another great innovation in Apple Retail. Well done, Cupertino.

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