Those familiar with Apple have seen implementations of their store-within-a-store model for quite some time now. These models appeared in CompUSA stores since the late 1990s and made their way into Best Buy and Target stores over the last few years. Now, Wal-Mart is experimenting with a more engaging experience. Reports from ifoapplestore today indicate there is a new model of a store-within-a-store in Lowell Arkansas. Many of these adjustments may remind one of the Apple stores themselves prior to Apple using iPads as price and product information tags.
In the Nashville area, Wal-Mart stores have locked cases for all Apple products and even smaller price tags. If you would like to touch or demo an Apple device, you need to find a Wal-Mart employee who works in the electronics department with a key to the products. While all of the glass is clean and you can see most of the items within the display, touching the product is not part of the experience. The local Sam’s Club locations do allow you to touch the iPad, but do not always have an active iPod Touch model. To be fair, most of the electronics at these locations are behind a locked case. This is a good practice for limiting theft, but challenging when aligning to the Apple user experience that is a large part of their brand.
Best Buy does offer a more user-encouraged experience in their Nashville locations. At the stores with a dedicated Apple area, there are actual Apple representatives who staff the display and answer questions about the iPad, MacBooks, and iMacs as potential buyers use and experience the devices. While it is not exactly the same as an Apple store, it is a positive distinction for the Apple product line.
Other reports indicate that this new model may make its way into Sam’s Club locations rather than the mainstream Wal-Mart stores. Here’s hoping that more of the Apple brand experience will grow beyond Sam’s Club and further into the Targets and Wal-Marts which carry their products.
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