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Tabletops: Apple Pickup playground

Michael Steeber
Michael Steeber
Apple Pickup playground
The future of Apple Retail is being designed right in front of you.
Over the past two years, more than half a dozen new Apple Stores have opened with spaces dedicated to Apple Pickup. This is one of the most notable changes to the core Apple Store experience since the debut of the New Store Design in 2015.
A close study of the latest stores reveals surprising variation. Every single Apple Pickup area to date has a slightly different layout or unique fixtures, and most occupy different areas of the store. You are witness to an evolving design language.
It’s incredibly rare to see Apple work through design challenges in public, and it’s also incredibly fascinating. The earliest Apple Stores and the New Store Design emerged from mock spaces in Cupertino essentially complete. Iteration happened behind closed doors, and many of the store features you know today have remained visually consistent for years.
Apple Valley Fair — the first store with an Apple Pickup space.
Apple Valley Fair — the first store with an Apple Pickup space.
Apple The Mall at Bay Plaza uses automat-style drawers to store customer orders.
Apple The Mall at Bay Plaza uses automat-style drawers to store customer orders.
Apple The Grove tucks its Pickup space behind the Forum.
Apple The Grove tucks its Pickup space behind the Forum.
Apple Rosenthaler Straße substitutes an Avenue for drawers. (via Filip Chudzinski)
Apple Rosenthaler Straße substitutes an Avenue for drawers. (via Filip Chudzinski)
Stores like Broadway Plaza & Scottsdale Quarter added drawers under a table (via @BrianYuH750)
Stores like Broadway Plaza & Scottsdale Quarter added drawers under a table (via @BrianYuH750)
Apple Yas Mall's dormant alcove — Pickup is not yet available in the UAE. (via Michael Giskin)
Apple Yas Mall's dormant alcove — Pickup is not yet available in the UAE. (via Michael Giskin)
Apple Myeongdong features freestanding cabinets.
Apple Myeongdong features freestanding cabinets.
Design ideas begin to crystallize at Apple Wuhan.
Design ideas begin to crystallize at Apple Wuhan.
A new challenge demands new solutions. Convenient Apple Pickup is not an innovation customers don’t know they want yet, it’s a feature customers are demanding today. I don’t think it’s entirely a coincidence that Pickup areas emerged six months into the pandemic, buoyed by the net of Express Storefronts during iPhone launch season.
There’s another risk to betting on a customer-facing solution designed in secret: misaligned expectations. By tweaking Pickup store by store, Apple can evaluate feedback from customers and employees to build an experience that meets everyone’s needs.
It’s still the early days. Store plans have been retrofit and a Boardroom was removed to accommodate Pickup fixtures. Only two stores open today were totally designed with Pickup in mind from the start. As Apple’s ideas for these new spaces converge, look to Apple The Mall at Bay Plaza and Apple Wuhan to see the future.
Featured image
Apple Dubai Mall
Photo via Faiz Ashraf on Instagram.
If you’d like to share photos or suggestions for future issues of this newsletter, my inbox and DMs are always open.
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Michael Steeber
Michael Steeber @michaelsteeber

Little stories about Apple's largest product.

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