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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Apple is describing the Apple Watch Edition to employees as:
“the ultimate expression of extraordinary craftsmanship, incredible innovation, and design driven by functionality and end use… technology becoming seductive, with desirability not necessarily defined simply by a price tag or elitism, but rather meticulous focus on usefulness and utility rooted in beauty.”
The company believes that “[m]ost Edition customers are interested in this collection for the intrinsic value that a gold watch offers along with the unique style choices available.”
As such, Apple has created a different purchasing path for potential Edition customers, one that “is intended to be extremely personal, elegant, and purposeful.” It is less time-constrained than the typical Apple Watch appointment, and fully guided by an Apple Store Expert, a salesperson who has received specialized training for working with high-end clientele.
Longer, Private Appointments: Apple plans to complete in-store Apple Watch Edition purchases during special appointments within a dedicated, private Apple Watch Edition try-on area. The Apple Watch Edition will have its own try-on table separate from the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport, and the purchasing process will last up to one hour, including 30 minutes for simply trying on the highest end Apple Watch. (There will be 5 to 15-minute appointments for the other models.)
Generally Only Two Watches At Once: Customers interested in the Apple Watch Edition can try on up to two distinct gold models at a time; to reduce the risk of theft, employees will need to assess the store conditions before bringing a third Watch out simultaneously. If the customer wants to compare the Edition with non-Edition models, the Expert will be able to ask another Apple Store employee to bring over a couple of Sport and stainless steel models on a special “caddy” from the standard Apple Watch display table. Accessories will be offered after a customer has finished trying watches on, but before the purchase transaction is completed.
A Special Station and Chairs: Apple will have a special try-on station for the Apple Watch Edition, including a pair of stools for the customer, an Edition demo kit holding the watches, and a try-on mat like ones found in jewelry stores. Once the customer decides to purchase the Edition, it can be set up in one of two ways: in-store with the same Expert or via a new service called Virtual Personal Setup.
Virtual Personal Setup: Apple will allow a customer to video conference from home with an online Apple Store employee to learn about the Apple Watch. This program will be offered to both Edition and standard stainless steel Apple Watch buyers. However, Apple Watch Edition customers will be given an exclusive, dedicated Apple Watch Edition phone line for two years of 24/7 technical support (in English). With AppleCare+, this is upgraded to three years.
Contact Center Edition Team: Beyond using a telephone-based Contact Center to offer a personalized pre-sale experience to Edition customers, Apple will have a special Contact Center Edition Team with a dedicated phone number to schedule on-demand setup.
Courier-to-Store: As Apple has previously noted, walk-in and reservation-based Apple Watch Edition try-ons and sales will not be available at all stores. However, sources say that the Edition can be ordered online and delivered to any store the customer prefers through a special new “Edition Courier-to-Store” program, where a courier will deliver the Edition for try-on and purchase. Alternately, an Apple Store without Editions can schedule a try-on appointment for a customer at any nearby location with stock.
Largest Markets Only, At First: While Apple tells employees that the Edition will initially be exclusive to the company’s “largest markets,” the company also says that the device will roll out “gradually” to the rest of the company’s stores. The aforementioned 24/7 Edition support will be in English only at launch, while the special line will be available in all markets in local languages at launch.
No Waiting In Line: Unlike stainless steel Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport customers, those seeking to buy the Apple Watch Edition will not have to wait in a line. Sources say that potential Edition buyers will have priority access to assistance, effectively skipping the line of other waiting customers. Experts will be able to help a couple of customers try-on Watches simultaneously, unlike standard employees who will simultaneously help as many stainless steel and Sport customers as necessary.
As we reported earlier this year, Apple will also secure Apple Watch Editions with in-store safes, indicating the value of the device. We earlier profiled Apple’s strategy of offering customers fashion advice and the three-step sales strategy for positioning the Apple Watch. Apple Stores, at launch, will likely not have Apple Watch stock for those without appointments, as Apple wants to promote the customer sales experience.