Apple is continuing to transition its three main retail outlets, its physical retail stores, online store, and main website, into a single experience. Following the deep integration of the Apple Online Store throughout Apple.com, Apple is set to integrate its appointment scheduling services for the Genius Bar and in-store workshops deeply into the main website, according to sources briefed on the plans. The latest indications are that Apple will roll out these significant retail changes as soon as Tuesday, August 25th.
In Apple retail vocabulary, this combined appointment scheduling service is called the “Concierge.” It is the website you currently see (shown above) when you want to schedule a Genius Bar appointment at an Apple Store or register for a Workshop to learn how to use your Apple product. The revamped version will be deeply integrated into individual Apple Retail Store pages versus being its own website.
The new updated web-based service has also been re-written with a focus on accessibility and mobile devices. “Customers with visual or hearing impairments can more easily use the Concierge system,” Apple wrote in a note to retail employees about the upcoming change. As for mobile optimization, the new system will have a unique appearance depending on if it is being used on a desktop, smartphone, or tablet, much like the upgraded Apple.com.
While the Genius Bar system will still technically function as always, the Workshops service will see scheduling improvements. According to sources, the now-complex array of scheduling options will be simplified into three categories of workshops: Discover, Create, and Organize. This should make it a bit easier for customers to find and schedule workshops for topics that pertain to them. Lastly, the updated website will have deep social integration for sharing Workshops via Twitter, Facebook, Weibo, QQ, and email.
Separately, Apple plans to shake up its retail store operations next Wednesday by eliminating the long-existing iPad Smart Sign system and demoting iPod stock storage to accessory walls. Since our last report, sources have added that Smart Sign information will be replaced with pop-up pieces of information on Macs in the store and that iOS devices will be loaded up with special apps to replace Smart Signs.