Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Inspired by Apple


Photograph by Dianne McKenzie CC Share-alike

I recently had the opportunity to visit New York for a few days, and as part of this I visited the Apple store on 5th Avenue at 5:30am, which happened to be a great time as there were hardly any customers and we had the store almost to ourselves being able to take our time and really have a look around.

I have been an Apple user since 1987, and although I have also had to use other machines in my work life, I do prefer Apple products for their user friendliness, and the service. This visit to the store was just to have a look around, but I have come away thinking about how they have set the store up and how a school library could take some of their ideas....

Firstly, having different spaces for different uses - they had a section for each product, we do this already with our fiction, non fiction, etc sections in a library. The Apple signage was also very clear and clean.
Photograph by Dianne McKenzie CC Share-alike

Individual instruction / advertising for each product with an ipad next to each product. The home button was disabled, so the customer was only able to see what the store wanted them to see on these ipads. They were embedded into a table mounted perspex holder which prevented theft. Having ipads in various parts of the library set to a specific screen for instructional purposes would be so useful (and expensive).

Photograph by Dianne McKenzie CC Share-alike

Photograph by Dianne McKenzie CC Share-alike
They also had different tables for different style of training - Personal training for people who needed one on one learning and group training for those who had a similar learning need to each other - it could be a group of strangers, or a group of people working on the same project who needed technical help.  Is this something that could be implemented in a school - if you want help, sit at one of these tables. This would save having to 'ask' for help, but give the message that you would like assistance. I wonder if this could work in a school library?

Photograph by Dianne McKenzie CC Share-alike

Photograph by Dianne McKenzie CC Share-alike

I also liked their kids area - a low table with comfy ball chairs with ipads on the table waiting to be used and played with.  These were not mounted permanently onto the table, but were mounted on a small perspex mount that invited these devices to be picked up and used. I would love to have an area in a library that would allow for such impulsive interaction.
Photograph by Dianne McKenzie CC Share-alike


Photograph by Dianne McKenzie CC Share-alike

They also sold some interesting gadgets for fitness and health and  a GPS for your child and dog. What we did notice there was limited software on the shelves demonstrating the change in buying habits where most software is bought online now - could this be a reflection of the changes in libraries to come where most of the space is used up by people, and the books are an online feature of a library? And where we franchise out some of the space for special deals on ereaders etc?

Photograph by Dianne McKenzie CC Share-alike

Apple stores feature a lot of glass, and glass only looks good when it is clean. The Apple store in NY has 3 people a day dedicated to cleaning the glass on the staircase and elevator. Moral of the story - avoid glass if you do not want to be cleaning it all the time.

Photograph by Dianne McKenzie CC Share-alike

Photograph by Dianne McKenzie CC Share-alike

The other great thing about the Apple store is that they have many, many staff to help people, the service is streamlined and they all know the products they are selling. Over 15,000 people a day visit this store so they also need to be patient and cheerful, all the time. They are also happy to have a chat if they are not too busy. A lesson for libraries - know your product, and always be cheerful and patient even if you do not have the massive staff base, and take time to connect with your customers. You want your customers to come back.

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