By Chand Bellur
May 8, 2020 at 1:09 p.m. PT
- The novel coronavirus pandemic has claimed almost 300,000 lives, with approximately four million cases in the world, to date.
- Apple was one of the first corporations to shutter retail outlets, with most stores still closed.
- Balancing public health concerns with economic needs, Apple created a new online shopping portal for their products and services.
COVID-19 Shutters Apple Stores Around the World
It seems as though everything changed overnight. Back in January and early February, the world was concerned that maybe iPhone shipments would stall due to a mysterious virus. This still-mysterious virus has now changed the way most of the global population lives their lives.
Social distancing and shuttered, non-essential stores are our new reality. Venturing into a supermarket seems almost like a Black Mirror episode. That’s precisely how bizarre our new reality is.
Apple quickly responded to COVID-19, first closing stores in mainland China. Due to the fastidious containment of the disease, virtually all Apple Stores in China reopened by mid-March. As individual states in the US are rolling back stay-at-home orders, Apple has an alternative to brick and mortar stores.
Apple Launches Online Shopping Portal
Apple Stores will reopen soon. Although COVID-19 seems to be killing more people today than a month ago, economies can’t stay closed forever. The stay-at-home advisories were temporary, intending to buy time until testing and contact tracing capabilities ramped up. Unfortunately, most states don’t have adequate testing and contact tracing capacities, yet will reopen anyway.
Reopening a retail outlet doesn’t mean everything goes back to normal. Apple is opening retail stores across Australia; however, new practices are in place to protect both customers and workers. These practices, such as checking customers’ temperatures, requiring masks, and inquiring about symptoms, will likely be fixtures in Apple Stores across the world.
With new practices in place, Apple Store outlets cannot serve as many customers as before. Social distancing requires tracking how many customers enter and exit the store and managing this population. Instead of dealing with long lines and waits, many customers may opt to stay home.
Apple recently addressed this problem by greatly expanding its retail operations. Today, Apple launched its new Apple Store Online. Although Apple has always offered an online shopping experience, this new incarnation is more like a brick and mortar outlet. Complete with Apple product specialists, the new online store provides help, trade-ins, no-contact delivery, and other options.
No-contact delivery is perhaps the most appealing option for Apple customers. While it’s nice to go to the store and try out iPhone models, at the end of the day, you’re probably going to buy one. It’s unlikely you’ll walk out and buy a Samsung or HTC device. Contact-free delivery makes it easy to have an Apple product shipped to your door, without requiring a signature. Instead, customers verbally acknowledge receipt of the product, eliminating any possible virus transmission between both parties.
Apple’s new online store also offers videos, to make up for paused “Today at Apple” sessions. The videos provide instruction and inspiration for projects which should occupy those stuck at home.
Overall, Apple’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been remarkably quick and adroit. While governments and corporations have fumbled the ball, Apple has continued to run circles around the competition. They even earned 1% more revenues than the same quarter last year.