Apple may want you to come into one of its retail stores to check out and try on the Apple Watch, but you'd better not plan on actually walking out the door with one. According to Business Insider, Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts has circulated a memo to store employees telling them to encourage customers to buy the Apple Watch and the new MacBook online, where more will be in stock. "The days of waiting in line and crossing fingers for a product are over for our customers," the memo says. She later calls the shift to online sales, "a significant change in mindset."
"The days of waiting in line and crossing fingers for a product are over for our customers."
The gist of the memo isn't simply that Apple's retail stores are going to have low supplies of these two new products, it's that Ahrendts is trying to make Apple's stores into something a bit classier. Apple has long gained publicity for having people wait in lengthy lines for hours — if not days — in front of its store for new iPhones. While that's generated a nice camaraderie for the brand, it certainly doesn't leave an impression of Apple as a high-end, classy fashion company. That's what Apple has been going for while selling the Watch, and that's the world Ahrendts comes from: her former position was CEO of Burberry.
It's a strange shift, too, that seems to be transforming Apple Stores from actual stores into showrooms. It's unclear if this trend will continue with future product launches — we'll really see what Ahrendts is planning if this continues with the iPhone — but for now, Apple very much wants people to check out its new products in stores and then go home to buy them (and then wait for them to arrive). That could be frustrating if this practice continues months from now, when Apple's supply of the new products has stabilized, but it may make the devices' launches smoother and limit what resellers can grab. At the very least, killing lines will mean one less thing for Samsung to make fun of.
While Apple Stores in the US will carry some supply of the Apple Watch, Business Insider reports that stores in the UK may not have any stock at all during launch. Watch try-ons and preorders begin this Friday. If you want one early, it sounds like you're best off ordering then. The full text of the memo, reprinted from Business Insider, is below.
Get in line online
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.
Verge Video: Hands-on with the Apple Watch