Apple’s (s aapl) experiment with self-checkout in its retail stores is apparently doing well, according to sources speaking with CNBC’s Jon Fortt. (s cmcsa)(s ge) The system, which allows shoppers to buy relatively inexpensive items using the official Apple Store app on their iPhones and their iTunes account, seemed to some to be a recipe for shoplifting. Not the case, says Fortt.
Due to reconfiguration of store displays and staff, Fortt says Apple can actually better supervise the door and make sure people walking out with items legitimately should be. Plus, it keeps staff free for the more important tasks of doing product demos and helping shoppers who haven’t already made up their minds about what to purchase.
Fortt’s source, someone “familiar with Apple’s retail operation,” says the benefits of the new EasyPay system outweigh the downsides, something which will lead Apple to make it a feature “prominently touted” at Apple’s new Grand Central Terminal store in New York City, which is set to open Dec. 9. If self-checkout really is doing as well as Fortt’s source seems to think it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple made encouraging its use at new location a standard practice, both through staff advocacy and physical layout.
Self-checkout is undoubtedly going to require a lot of initial investment in terms of making sure customers know about it and know how to use it. But if it’s already performing well by Apple’s standards, that’s a very good sign for the future, since as adoption increases it should cut down on Apple’s retail staffing costs and allow for even bigger profit margins for the brick-and-mortar stores.