The Apple Store App for iPhone - Disruptions and Opportunities for Retail

It's almost like stealing. But of course it isn't. You walk into an Apple retail store, scan the barcode of the item you want, and log in with your AppleID. Paid. Done. Never see a salesperson. Walk out of the store. Here's the story of how this fabulous app works.

Last Saturday, I was at the Park Meadows Mall Apple store in Lone Tree, Colorado. I needed an extra USB to Lightning cable, so I thought I'd try out the Apple Store app.

The first thing I noticed is that the App, the moment I launched it, knew where I was. That isn't surprising, but the way it came up so quickly seemed like magic anyway.

I simply selected the "EasyPay" botton, and the iPhone used the rear facing camera to give me an external view.

There's a quick tutorial on how to buy the item.

Next, I held the item at the right distance until one of the bar codes on the product package filled the rectangle on the the iPhone's display. When it came into focus and recognized it, I got an offer to make the purchase. (You won't have this option if you're not inside one of the stores.)

To complete the transaction, I just entered my AppleID password. The app already knew my AppleID account name. Done. If it's your first purchase with this app, you'll be asked to also enter the card's security code (CSC).

What's cool is that my Apple receipt was logged to a special section under the More... tab in "EasyPay Receipts."

If you must print it when you get home, you can take a screen shot. Or wait for the emailed receipt. At this point, with a receipt tucked away, available for inspection, I'm ready to just walk out of the store.

In my case, a salesperson was nearby, making sure I did everything right, and so I asked him, "What's to keep someone from just pointing an iPhone at an item without the app running, for appearance sake, and then walk out of the store with something small but expensive? His response:

"We trust you."

But Wait. There's More!

This nifty app does a lot more than walk you through a purchase. You can:

  • Find the nearest Apple store if you're not sure where one is.
  • Quickly see a store's hours of operation.
  • Make a Genius Bar appointment.
  • Tap a button to call Apple technical support. (866-242-2674)
  • See a list of popular products.
  • Walk through the process of buying a new iPhone.
  • Check your iPhone upgrade eligibility (via a link to the carrier.) Note: the last four digits of your SSN and billing Zip code are required.
  • Complete an online order and check the status of an online order
  • Review your AppleID account information, for example, shipping address or phone number.
  • Set some notification options. For example, a Genius Bar or workshop appointments or shipment status.

The only limitation of note is that you can only buy one item at a time with this app. Also, it's optimized for the iPhone's display and isn't a Universal app. But who goes shopping with an iPad, but doesn't have an iPhone? Even so, I would agree that the app should be Universal.

Finally, in my case, I didn't experience any of the problems mentioned in the reviews in Apple's own App Store.


First, this app exudes class, simplicity and ease of use. One can immediately see Apple's famous attention to good User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) details. Nothing is confusing, nothing is left to chance, and it's a joy to use. The Apple Store app belongs on everyone's iPhone.

I'm thinking that if Apple, as the rumors are going, includes fingerprint authentication on the next iPhone, that will make this app even easier to use.

And guess what? It's all done without, cough, NFC.

Finally, if Apple can do this so well in its own stores, I can see how this initial phase could lead to a broader acceptance for those merchants who partner with Apple. And don't think this won't be a money making opportunity for Apple as well.

It really is a better way to discover, shop and conduct a purchase transaction. I imagine, that this method of shopping isn't lost on managers of other stores in a mall who happen to wander into an Apple store. While they're still wrestling with 20th century cash registers, Apple and now Nordstroms have moved sharply ahead. Soon, it will be a visible embarrassment for other merchants.

Eventually, this technology will leave more time for salespeople to assist customers with product questions. That's the human part of shopping that's so necessary and something we don't want to lose.