Apple Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores Angela Ahrendts is pushing a new idea on her retail staff: send customers to the company's website for sales. In a memo to retail store employees, she instructed them to urge customers to buy their Apple Watch online instead of in the store even after they come in to try one on.
Apple wants us to buy Apple Watch online, not in its stores
The memo marks a big change for Apple because its stores have always been the place to go see new products, make a purchase, and walk out the door with a brand new laptop, iPhone or iPad. In a memo obtained by Business Insider, Ms. Ahrendts told employees,
The days of waiting in line and crossing fingers for a product are over for our customers. The Apple Store app and our online store make it much easier to purchase Apple Watch and the new MacBook. Customers will know exactly when and where their product arrives.
This is a significant change in mindset, and we need your help to make it happen. Tell your customers we have more availability online, and show them how easy it is to order. You'll make their day.
In essence, she's telling retail staff customers should use Apple's Stores as a showroom floor instead of a see-it-and-buy-it experience. Whether or not that will make customer's day, however, seems a little tenuous.
Urging customers to buy online is likely an indication of very limited stock in stores. Instead of turning away lines filled with frustrated customers, Apple can try to diffuse the situation by offering people wanting an Apple Watch a way to get one without having to wonder if they'll leave the store disappointed day after day.
The shop in the store but buy online scheme isn't new. In fact, that's how the PC maker Gateway ran its retail business. You could pick out the computer you wanted, but you didn't leave the store with it. Instead, you placed an order and waited for it to be delivered to your home.
Taking away the instant gratification thrill from buying the latest Apple product kills some of the fun of the experience, but if the inventory won't be available it's smart for the company to start its damage control now instead of after out of control lines form outside its stores.
If you want to try on an Apple Watch starting on April 10, you'll need an appointment. You'll need an appointment starting on the 24th if you plan on trying to buy one in the store, too. Apple will have some walk-in appointments available, but your best bet will be to schedule one ahead of time.