I just got back from the Apple Store in the mall. I needed to pick up an iPod Touch and a case for my brother for his Christmas present.
My experience with Apple products goes back 20 years ago. I had a throw away Apple II (forgot which variant though), and used various other machines that came out afterwards. My first iPod was the third generation click wheel, and I started going to their branded stores once one opened nearby (around the time the iPod Video came out).
The Apple Store has always been crowded, always had the computers and iPods scattered everywhere. There was a lot of boxed software which took a majority of the store, and there was the main area where you'd pay for whatever you'd buy. Then, of course, the Genius Bar at the back. Most of the employees were tech enthusiasts, and were very friendly and willing to help.
The setup has now changed. It is just as crowded as before, but there are twice the amount of devices sitting out. Most of the boxed software has gone to make room for the tables upon tables of Macs and iOS devices. There are 5x times the amount of employees, the majority of them just standing around, breathing behind your neck. They are the typical people who'd probably be working at Wal-Mart at the checkout lane, hardly any tech knowledge whatsoever, and just there to get the employee discounts on the latest iPhone and iPod.
Today I asked an employee who was just standing there for an iPod Touch, he basically told me they were in some direction, which they weren't. I asked another employee who was also just standing there again for the iPod Touch:
Employee: That guy in the red shirt at the very front can help you.
Me: Um... They're all wearing red shirts...
Employee: Oh, yeah you're right, sorry... That guy over there... *Points in left direction*
What's the point in this setup? Why do they have to have an Express Checkout when every single guy who's working there has an iPhone that you can complete a purchase with? Why can't they just keep these things in the back, grab them when needed, and make the process much more easier for them and the customer? Why are they paying people to stand around and do nothing?
I get the point that they no longer want people to just hang around the store like what has happened in the past, but the way the stores are operated now doesn't add to the customer experience. I would have been better off just buying the product from Wal-Mart in the end.