updated 01:00 am EST, Wed January 25, 2012
Revenue, visitor counts both jump over 40 percent
Apple CEO Tim Cook has credited the company's recent retail innovations, which include the online option of in-store pickup of purchases as well as a new self-checkout option that incorporates into the stores' EasyPay system with an eponymous iOS app, with helping Apple Stores see significant jumps in visitors and revenue across 2011. Average revenues per store grew 43 percent to $17.4 million, while visitors grew 45 percent to an average 22,000 per week.
The self-checkout system, which originally spawned jokes about how customers would walk off with merchandise, has proven popular. It uses the credit card on file from the customer's iTunes account, making payment as simple as scanning the barcode using the iOS device's camera and signing in and avoiding the need to ask for sales help, particularly if the store is exceptionally busy. Being able to order an item online and pick it up in-store has also increased customer convenience, CEO Tim Cook told analysts yesterday. The self-checkout is currently limited to smaller items such as accessories or Apple TV -- major purchases still require sales assistance.
How much of the increase in foot traffic and store revenue is attributable to these factors wasn't stated, but an overall image of allowing customers to be able to get in and out of the store quickly with or without sales help has fostered a perception that encourages impulse buying and consumer confidence of getting a desired item in a timely fashion. Store associates also now carry iOS devices equipped with cases that double as credit-card readers to allow checkout to happen anyplace in the store.
Apple reported that 110 million unique visitors stopped by an Apple store during the last quarter. The company plans to further expand its stores, with some 40 new stores planned in various cities around the globe that could open at some point in 2012 or early 2013. The company presently has 361 stores operating, and is planning to renovate or replace smaller stores in the US with larger ones in or near the same location.