After opening the AppleTV box, the final step in setting up my new television at my apartment in Boston, I realised one essential component was missing: the HDMI cable. I scurried around the apartment looking for a spare, but came up empty-handed. “No problem,” I thought. “I’ll just dash down the hill and grab one from the Apple store. It’s only a half block away.”
That’s when I looked out of the window. Normally, the store on Boylston Street is clearly visible from my apartment, but this time, all I saw was snow. A blinding blizzard.
“Crap ...,” I grumbled under my breath. I wanted that cable, but the thought of heading out into the snow and battling my way to the store made me shiver.
It was a First World problem, I admit, but I needed that cable as a matter of urgency. If I had to confront the weather then so be it, but before heading to the closet for my hat and scarf, I decided to reach for my phone.
After punching in apple.com, I crossed my fingers in hope as the products page began to load. “Phew,” I let out a sigh of relief. There it was: the cable was in stock and available for delivery within the hour. The delivery charge was nearly the cost of the product itself, but the time, energy, and comfort it would save me made it worth every dime.
“Where on Earth is this story going?” you might be wondering. Well, bear with me, because what happened next leads to a crucial point.
A packaged surprise
Sure enough, less than an hour later, the doorbell rang, and I was duly handed a white Apple bag — the kind that comes from the store. “That’s odd,” I thought. Online orders usually arrived in cardboard boxes graffitied with postage marks, not in pristine, paper carrier bags.
It was only when I opened the bag and peered in that it hit me. Alongside the box containing my new cable was a freshly printed receipt from the store at the end of my very own street.
A smile of pleasant surprise spread across my face. I was truly impressed. Forget technological innovation, ingenious design and billion-dollar sales, this time Apple had really outdone itself.
What might have seemed like a small gesture was, for me, a sign monumental change. Apple, a corporate giant and one of the world’s biggest tech companies, had not picked my item from a steel shelf in a gargantuan warehouse and enlisted courier services to handle the delivery.
Instead, the company’s online system had noted my location and had sourced the product from my local store, delivering it — I’m mildly ashamed to admit — in person. If that was the future of retail, then I wanted more of it.
A touch of personalised service on an online order
There was a happy irony about the whole situation. One of the most innovative companies on the planet was breaking new ground by combining the best of e-commerce with old-fashioned, local service with a smile. When I was growing up, most local stores delivered in person to customers around the neighbourhood. But with the passing of time, the growth of the superstore and the advent of digital technology, I had come to accept that those days were gone.
The point is this: we should not be afraid of change. Of course, not all change is good, but sometimes, as I was reminded on that snowy day in Boston, it is absolutely great. What Apple did was different — a departure from the norm — and it marked a change that could fundamentally alter e-commerce, not just in terms of customer perception, but in terms of the very concept itself.
Change is all around us. Sometimes it slips into our lives unnoticed, but all too often we fear its arrival and treat it with suspicion and contempt. Resist change and you’ll never know what could have been.
So, why not embrace it? You never know, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Tommy Weir is the CEO of enaible: AI-powered Leadership and author of “Leadership Dubai Style”. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.