updated 10:40 am EDT, Wed October 26, 2011
Pilot limited to just three stores
As anticipated, Apple has begun a pilot program offering retail pickup for online orders. The option must be selected during the checkout process at Apple's online store. Only the company's three San Francisco outlets are available as destinations: aside from the flagship store, this includes Chestnut Street and Stonestown.
One report suggests that the pilot program should expand to other parts of the Bay Area "within the next couple of days or so." Should Apple not have any problems, in-store pickup is expected to spread across the rest of the US in coming months. There is no word on when the option might extend outside of US borders.
MacRumors notes that in-store pickup may potentially be slower than simply choosing delivery. The shipping window for a custom 27-inch iMac, for instance, may currently fall between October 29th and November 2nd, but selecting in-store pickup sets a November 3rd target. The main reason to pick the in-store option may simply be avoiding hassles like missed deliveries or having to wait at home or work.