On May 17, Apple’s head of retail, Deirdre O’Brien posted on Apple’s blog that stores would begin to reopen, but the shopping experience at Apple stores might be a little different. Apple is committed “to only move forward with a reopening once we’re confident we can safely return to serving customers from our stores.”
Apple is relying on guidance from health officials for reopening local stores. O’Brien clearly states that they will re-close stores if “local conditions warrant.”
What steps are being taken by Apple?
Apple is taking a multifaceted approach to protecting its team and customers. Every store will have limited occupancy. The focus will be on personalized service throughout the store. In most stores, face coverings will be required for both the team and customers. Apple stores are providing face coverings if customers don’t bring their own.
Touch-less temperature checks will be conducted. The team may also conduct health screenings before entry, asking questions about symptoms or recent exposure. And obviously, cleaning efforts will be enhanced. Throughout the day, all surfaces, display products, and heavily trafficked areas will be deep cleaned.
Will customers buy it?
The EEOC generally states that employers cannot perform a medical exam (a temperature check) on employees, but these rules have been waived during the pandemic. Employers are also allowed to ask employees about their health status during this time.
As far as customers go, stores are allowed more leeway. After all, if a customer doesn’t want to answer the questions, they can leave. Apple customers can get online help instead of going to the stores. All products can be purchased online. There’s little need to go to an Apple store, except to touch and try out different models, or to drop off a broken product for repair.
It remains to be seen whether customers will return to Apple stores in person, or if their business model is broken.