Apple Stores to begin selling select Apple Watches as soon as this week with surprise collectible bags

Some Apple Watch models shipping as soon as 1-3 days ahead of Apple Store availability

Some Apple Watch models shipping as soon as 1-3 days ahead of Apple Store availability

Apple said at the beginning of the month that it would fulfill all May Apple Watch orders with the exception of Space Black Link Bracelets by the middle of the month, then begin selling some models in retail stores for the first time. We’re hearing now that some Apple Retail Stores are preparing to begin limited in-store sales as soon as this week ahead of the Apple Watch’s expansion into seven more countries next Friday, and there will be a small perk for those who’ve waited… Read more

Tim Cook responded to Apple Store staff complaints about bag check policy, asking execs “Is this true?”

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Papers from a failed class action suit by Apple Store staff reveal that at least two retail employees complained directly to CEO Tim Cook about the policy of subjecting them to anti-theft bag checks before they left the store. Tim Cook forwarded the complaints to senior retail and HR executives, asking “Is this true?” …  Read more

Apple to require more secure, stringent return process for Apple Watch Edition

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Beyond a unique sales process and exclusivity to select stores, even returning the Apple Watch Edition will have its own special process. Bringing the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition back to an Apple Store for a refund will require the device to be scrutinized under micro-inspection by Apple Store staff, according to sources. While the return process itself is unique, the return timeframe will be the standard 14 days like most of Apple’s other products…

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Apple Watch user-interface still seems confusing? There’s a workshop for that …

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Following the try-on appointments that allowed 15 minutes hands-on time with an Apple Watch (or an hour for the Edition), Apple is offering Apple Watch Basics workshops at selected retail stores. Appointments can be booked now, and the earliest workshops take place on the official (or perhaps now unofficial) launch date of 24th April.

It’s unlikely many people will have received their Apple Watch by this date, and you won’t be able to buy one in-store before June, but if the tutorial videos or unofficial cheat-sheet still leave you wanting more, the workshops seem a good opportunity to get to grips with the new device …  Read more

No Apple Watches in store until June, Ahrendts tells staff as April 24th date removed from website

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Angela Ahrendts has told Apple Store staff that the Apple Watch is unlikely to be available for in-store purchases before June – but they should expect the usual ‘blockbuster launches’ in retail stores for future products.

In a memo to retail store staff, Apple’s retail head thanked staff for making the try-ons “unforgettable,” told them customer feedback had been “overwhelmingly positive” and that the online-only ordering period was likely to continue throughout May.

Many of you have been getting questions asking if we will have the watch available in stores on April 24 for walk-in purchases. As we announced last week, due to high global interest combined with our initial supply, we are only taking orders online right now. I’ll have more updates as we get closer to in-store availability, but we expect this to continue through the month of May.

Ahrendts said that the decision to do things this way had not been an easy one …  Read more

Opinion: I’ve seen the future of Apple’s online/offline retail experience, and it’s magic

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‘Seen’ is something of an exaggeration, but ‘had a small glimpse of’ would have made for a rather lengthy headline.

Despite the fact that I’d placed my Apple Watch order online within a few minutes of pre-orders opening, I also made a same-day appointment for a try-on. This was partly because I wanted to handle the watch right away: Apple PR does not smile on a website that consistently reports upcoming product information, so we are firmly crossed-off the list of invitees to launches. But it was also partly because I was curious how the watch would be presented by store staff.

But let me begin by backing up a step or two …  Read more

Angela Ahrendts to retail staff: Encourage customers to buy Apple Watch & MacBook online

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Apple may be revamping its storefronts to promote the Apple Watch, but it won’t be encouraging you to buy one there. Retail head Angela Ahrendts has sent a memo to Apple Store staff asking them to suggest customers use the online store to order both the Apple Watch and 12-inch MacBook. The memo reportedly reflects the fact that store inventory of both products will be very limited when the MacBook goes on sale on Friday and the Apple Watch follows two weeks later.

Ahrendts’ two-paragraph memo aims to put a positive spin on the fact that many customers are likely to be disappointed when trying to purchase the new products, suggesting that pointing them to online purchase will “make their day” …  Read more

AppleCare+ for Apple Watch: $999 for Edition, $79 for Watch, $59 for Sport

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To go along with the premium $10,000 and up pricing of the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition, Apple will charge up to $999 for the Apple Watch Edition’s AppleCare+ Protection Plan, 9to5Mac has learned. The Apple Watch Edition notably has very different AppleCare coverage from other Apple Watch models, coming with two years of 24/7 support and a special setup hotline right out of the box. AppleCare+ will add a third year of technical support and support for up to two incidents of accidental hardware damage. More affordable AppleCare+ coverage will also be offered for the aluminum Sport and stainless steel standard models, which will cost $59 and $79 respectively, adding a second year of technical support to the included one year, plus support for up to two incidents of accidental hardware damage…

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Apple Watch Edition perks: 24/7 support, private 1-hour appointments, no lines

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After hiring a new team of fashion sales and marketing experts from Yves St. Laurent, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry, Apple has developed a unique Apple Store purchasing experience just for the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition, according to sources briefed on the launch plans. When a customer interested in the Apple Watch Edition enters the store, he or she will be given no-wait access to a dedicated Expert, who will provide a personalized “journey” from the beginning of the appointment until the end, as much as one hour later. There will even be a new option for at-home video conferencing rather than in-store personal setup. By design, it will be more “elegant” than the budget-focused experience Apple Watch Sport customers receive…

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Yesterday’s Apple data outage left some Apple Stores badly hit, credit card terminals offline

The Apple Store in Birmingham, England – one of the stores affected

The Apple Store in Birmingham, England – one of the stores affected

Yesterday’s large-scale data outage left a number of Apple Stores in Europe offline, reports Business Insider.

For about two hours this morning, employees couldn’t check in to work, stores couldn’t make sales, and Genius Bar appointments couldn’t be kept. Employees couldn’t check email until 3 pm London time.

The issues meant that store staff were unable to use their card machines to take payments, leading stores to resort to old-fashioned mechanical paper machines (photo below) …  Read more

Tim Cook’s latest stop in whirlwind international tour: London’s Covent Garden Apple Store

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Tim Cook’s international tour continues. After visiting BILDChancellor Angela Merkel and an Apple Store in Germany, and President Reuven Rivlin in Israel, he was photographed today in the Apple Store in London’s Covent Garden.

Business Insider pulled together a few tweets in which Cook gave Apple Watch demos to surprised customers, and posed for selfies with store employees …  Read more