This is an article about retail.
Retail is an art. It's a science.
Some companies do it very well. Others, not so well.
Have you ever experienced buyers remorse?
You know? That time when you bought something, then regretted it?
I'm certain that a part of that is due to the experience of the purchase.
I'm not talking about the weekly grocery shop - although if the shelves are bare and what you want isn't available, then that can leave you feeling frustrated and exasperated.
I'm talking about the so-called 'big ticket' items.
The purchases that cost a lot of money.
A new car. Not even a brand new car - just one that is new for you.
Tech items too - televisions, hifi, computer equipment. All of these are not your usual, every day, purchase, and when you spend the money, you want to be sure that it meets your needs.
And that's where the whole experience comes in.
From the initial marketing, to the presentation in the store or showroom, or online, and then to the interaction with the sales people.
You want to feel loved. You want to know that you're spending your money wisely.
A good salesperson will never pressure you.
In fact, it's this pressure that leads to the buyers remorse I mentioned earlier.
A good salesperson will explain the features and benefits of the item - and they will talk to about about what it can do for you. In your particular circumstance.
In other words - they will listen to you, and then point out everything about the product that you need to know.
It may do so much more - but that's not what you need to know.
And this leads me onto one particular experience, when visiting the Apple store.
I've always liked the way Apple 'sell' their products. Whilst many people say that they sell themselves. when spending that amount of money, you want to enjoy the experience, and I've never been disappointed. And no, this isn't a story about the one time I was disappointed. That didn't happen. This is a story about how well Apple 'do it'.
I recently took my parents, along with my youngest son, to buy his birthday present.
He's going to be 13, and he's been going on and on, and on, about wanting an iPad Pro. He'd seen the Apple event, when it was launched and he knew he wanted one.
Now, I know that's a rather BIG present, but, to quote him; it's a BIG birthday, because he's going to be a teenager.
So, off we went to the Trafford Centre, just outside Manchester, to see what we could find!
We arrived early; the store wasn't open, but staff were waiting outside, talking with shoppers as they queued up.
Jamie approached one of them to ask, quite plainly, whether he should get an iPad Pro or the new MacBook Air?
Now - in past experience, other salespeople... no; let's stop there.
Salespeople suggest the job is to sell.
In the majority of cases these days, when you go into a shop, you are expected to know what you want; and don't dare ask any questions, because whoever is attending is unlikely to know the answer - they just want your money.
In an Apple store, they genuinely do stop and help. So, when Jamie spoke to him, he didn't ignore him as a time-wasting boy; but treated him with the same respect you and I would expect. He spoke directly to him, engaged him in conversation and discussed what Jamie would need from the product.
A few minutes later, the store opened it's doors and he was off like a shot!
When we caught up with him, he was talking to another staff member, who was showing him the AirPods. This is another Apple product that Jamie has been coveting! She paired them with his phone and he could listen to them as she talked about the benefits - and how they could also be used as a hearing aid. Who knew about that? She engaged with Jamie directly.
Then she introduced us to Bear. A big guy, with great beard (I guess that's where the nickname came from) who from the outset was all smiles and very, very, patient.
He had a chat with Jamie, then demonstrated the iPad Pro - how to perform split screen, and use the pencil and keyboard. It was a very polished performance and Jamie asked lots of questions and Bear was only too happy to answer.
Then, Jamie asked to see the new MacBook Air.
Bear didn't miss a beat, and switched modes, as we switched tables. He showed Jamie some of the features, again showing how he could have two screens at once, to help with homework; along with other functionality specific to the MacOS in ways that are different to iOS.
He didn't stop there; and soon the two of them were discussing the latest Avengers trailer, and Ant Man & The Wasp.
Now, remember that Jamie had his heart set on the iPad Pro - it was all he talked about since the day they were announced. He had read reviews, seen YouTube videos about it and even knew which size and colour he wanted.
So, you can imagine my surprise when he said the MacBook Air was probably more suitable. It was a totally mature decision that he arrived at all by himself. Secretly I was very pleased. I didn't think he'd benefit that much from the iPad Pro; especially as I'm a MacBook user myself.
As my parents settled up (and even benefitted from a Unidays discount to get 10% off) once in the bag, we shook hands. As we were leaving, the lady Jamie had first been speaking to about the AirPods, suddenly appeared and wished him a very happy birthday.
Now, that's service.
I suppose, what I'm trying to say here is that this is the way to treat the future.
Jamie is soon to be 13.
He doesn't have £000s to spend, but in treating him like the purchaser, those two members of staff were engaging with the customer of the future.
A great shopping experience like that one goes a long way to make sure you are buying the right product for you.