Apple is shifting how it ships devices to consumers: instead of sending out all of its hardware products directly from China or from local warehouses, the company is now going to use its network of Apple Stores as de-facto fulfillment centers, shipping products directly from the stores to get to customers faster.
The change, Bloomberg reports, will use Apple’s nearly 300 stores in the US and Canada to speed up local delivery for customers within 100 miles of a store. The company has already apparently started using the new system with several stores earlier this year, but the broader rollout is coming just ahead of Apple’s upcoming iPhone launch next week (which is already taking place later than usual).
The shift is largely an internal one, according to Bloomberg — so customers won’t be able to choose the store from which their devices ship. But using retail stores to facilitate faster shipping to customers could help get new iPhones in people’s hands that much faster, especially at a time when those stores are seeing far less in-person traffic (or are closed altogether) due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.