At FAO Schwarz: Apple’s tech is not a toy

iPads and iPhones drive fun interactive experiences at FAO Schwarz

Apple, iOS, FAO Schwarz, retail, digital transformation, iPad, iPhone
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The digital transformation of the retail industry challenges retailers, but they seem to be realizing that authenticity, customer service and relevance are critical. That’s certainly the case at FAO Schwarz.

This is not a toy

The legendary toy store closed in 2015, but is being resurrected by new owners, ThreeSixty Brands. Open for business in New York's Rockefeller Plaza, the toy emporium is renowned for its larger-than-life interactive retail experiences.

An example of this:

Over the holiday season, its New York store ran a Baby Doll Adoption Centre in which prospective doll owners had to speak with staff dressed as nurses and doctors to prove they were ‘fit parents’.

This interview also relied on use of mobile apps, including a checklist held on an iPad -- and you'll find Apple's products all over the store as the company evolves new shopping experiences.

Tomorrow's retail today

Apple’s VP Retail, Angela Ahrendts recently, recently said:

“The smart outside guys, they don’t say retail’s dying. They say digital’s going to grow at three times the rate of physical. In the next five years 75 percent of people will shop online – shop – but 75 percent of the business will still be done in physical stores. So, retail’s not dying, but it has to evolve. I think it has to serve a bigger purpose than just selling.”

This rapid transformation of retail means that these days most anyone who shops will have come across POS (Point of Sales) systems running on an iPad or iPhone. Apple retail store visitors will already have worked with a customer representative handling the entire transaction on their iOS device

“We are seeing industry-wide adoption of iOS at thousands of retailers, from neighborhood boutiques to many of the best-known retailers in the world,” Apple CFO Luca Maestri said.

How FAO Schwarz uses Apple’s kit

FAO Schwarz is using Apple equipment across the store, from interactive exhibits to sales associates tools. Inside, you’ll find iOS devices powering a range of experiences, while the videos you might see around the store are running on Apple TVs hooked up to screens. Sales and payments are handled on iPads or iPhones using Apple Pay.

Apple’s iOS development platform was one of the reasons FAO Schwarz chose Apple, so its teams could quickly build apps for use around the store, including controllers for remote control cars or elements of the Baby Doll Adoption process noted above.

Other reasons include the existence of off-the-shelf device management solutions, that Apple devices remain useful and hold their value over time and because they are robust, powerful, highly secure and reliable.

Welcome the new digital natives

FAO Schwarz cites Apple’s “instantly familiar user interface” as one of the reasons it chose to use iPhones, iPads and other Apple kit.

That’s highly significant.

Think about this: Today’s fresh employees are digital natives who grew up with Macs, iPods and iPhones. They are used to and familiar with iOS, and expect to use it at work as well as at home.

Michael Mauerer, CEO of Teamwork Retail, said, “Retail is fundamentally changing with the times, as it has done throughout history when technological changes bring forth new possibilities to engage with customers. Mobile technology has changed the way customers interact with merchants and it was Apple that brought the world a profound mobility platform that is second to none.”

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