My name’s Rob and I love Apple Stores. If I’d shared this confession with friends a year ago, my fondness for ‘un-British’ standards like ‘great atmosphere’ and ‘knowledgeable staff’ might have caused uproar.
Now that the Apple Store has topped our Which? high street shops survey for the first time, it’s good to know I’m far from alone.
After more than 11,000 consumers rated the shops they love and hate in our survey, people liked the Apple Store’s ‘unique look and feel’ and praised its ‘great customer service’. At the bottom of our survey is WH Smith, which our survey respondents described as ‘messy’ and ‘expensive’.
Admittedly, there’s a lot to mock about Apple Stores. Clapping your customers after they’ve bought a new iPhone on its launch day is a step too far in my opinion. The high prices you’ll find for basic items like USB-to-iPad cables can also be tough to stomach. To its credit, Apple justifies this premium reputation with top notch customer service.
When I went to buy my first ever iPad, I knew I wasn’t going to get it cheaper online, so I headed down to an Apple Store to see what the fuss was about. I got to test out the tablet I wanted, chat to a sales assistant about what case would be best for it, and I had a play on the new MacBook just because it seemed like fun.
It’s hard to recall which retailer offered this kind of experience before Apple came along. Rather than representing an Americanised vision of retail utopia, I see Apple Stores as offering a return to the traditional roots of independent shops. No wonder they also came first in the electricals category of our survey.
It’s all about the customer service
When I hit the high street with cash in hand I want to be greeted by a chipper equivalent of David Jason in Open All Hours, rather than a stuck up Captain Peacock from Are You Being Served?
In lots of small independent shops, the assistants usually have time for a casual chat to help you make the right purchase. Elsewhere, you’re likely to be greeted by a dour employee who’s visibly counting down the hours until closing time. That or an infuriating self-service machine which is permanently accusing you of tampering with its bagging area. It’s just the plastic bags. It’s invariably the plastic bags.
This is why I appreciate frequenting Apple Stores like no other shop on the high street. They’re a pleasure to spend time in. Admittedly, I don’t often have the money to buy a brand new iPad, but this makes visiting an Apple Store just that little bit more special.