updated 06:30 pm EDT, Tue November 1, 2011
New York, San Francisco already up and running
Additional details have come to light in Apple's plan, code-named "Sherwood," to allow customers to order an item online and then pick it up at a designated Apple retail store. The program, which came to light more than a week ago, began with three San Francisco Bay-area stores, then expanded to New York City stores. The latest reports have the program expanded to further flagship stores beginning Thursday.
Users can place an order online and pick it up as little as 12 minutes later, according to claims on BoyGeniusReport. Customers can then directly walk into the store, skipping any lines or registers, and simply sign for their products and walk out with them (for items that were already in-stock).
Custom orders or items that are currently out of stock will be assigned a definitive date as the customer completes the online order, though the date of in-store pickup availability will vary. Once the customer has received notification that an order is ready, the same 12-minute delay exists between the time the customer gets the notification and the time the item will be available for pickup in store. In some cases, the customer may find that it is quicker to have the order shipped directly to them, and that option will continue to be available.
The ability to place an online order will also be available in the Apple Store mobile app, which will notify a customer when an in-store pickup is ready via a push notification if desired. The updated version of the app, also expected to launch Thursday, will also give customers the option of self-checkout. As an example, a customer would enter an Apple store, find an item they wish to purchase, take a picture of the item's barcode with the iOS device's camera running the Apple Store app, which then confirms the purchase, charges the on-file card, and the customer leaves with the item (additional details of how staff and security will know that the item has been paid for have not yet been discovered).
In addition to being able to purchase without sales help and order online for in-store pickup, the program also allows customers to return items purchased online at their nearest Apple Store. Apple is said to expect that the program, once fully implemented, will lead to a 30 percent increase in store sales (online orders picked up at a retail store will be counted as a retail purchase). [via BGR]