Apple Store’s usability is great, but…

I’ve been eyeing a new MacBook Pro for a while and decided to pull the trigger during Apple’s Black Friday promotion. Since I wanted some custom upgrades, I bought it on Apple’s online store instead of at an Apple Store. Apple’s done a great job with their site’s usability, but I found a few things lacking with the experience.

The online store itself is done very well, and Apple makes it easy to get through the MacBook customization and checkout process. They’ve picked the right verbiage to guide the user through the process without any confusion.

However, there are two problems with the experience during and after checkout.

First, during the entire checkout process, there was never an indication of the total order amount including tax. Only the unit price, Black Friday discount, and eco fee were displayed. After I completed the checkout process, the order showed a tax line of $0.00 without indicating the total amount to be charged to my credit card. This remained that way the entire day. It wasn’t until the next day when the order was updated with the tax amount. I find it very odd that Apple had to run some backend job and couldn’t calculate the tax in real time at the time of ordering.

Second, there is a problem with communication after checkout is completed. When I buy online, I usually leave the order confirmation page open and then head over to my email window to check for an email confirming my order before I close the order confirmation page. This usually arrives within a few seconds.

Apple simply didn’t send one. I tried going into my order history on Apple’s web site, and they showed my order in a pending state (without a tax or total amount), but no email. It was about 12 hours until I received an email from Apple acknowledging my order.

I received a second email a few days later advising that my MBP has shipped and will arrive in a few days. Looks like they’ve perfected their supply chain management and build to order directly from the manufacturing plant in China. I was surprised at that, but it certainly makes sense.

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