Apple is finally preparing to start selling the Apple Watch in its retail stores after solely offering the Watch via its online store due to constrained supplies. In a private video message to retail employees today, Apple Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores Angela Ahrendts and Vice President of Retail Operations Jim Bean informed retail staff that training materials for the retail launch are once again being distributed to employees…
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Speaking of the imminent retail launch, Ahrendts told employees that “this is where the rubber hits the road, and now we need to make sure that we are above and beyond ready.” She added that Apple needs to “make sure that [it has] the best customer experience and that [this launch] is faster, smarter, and better than [Apple has] ever done before.” Because of the various Apple Watch models, Bean calls this a “different launch” in comparison to past products debuts.
“It’s going to be a little tougher to get everyone the exact [Watch] that they want,” so Apple is using a new “Reserve and Pickup” feature online, according to Bean. This service will allow customers to visit the Apple Online Store beginning at 8AM each day to check if their local Apple Store has the Apple Watch model that they would like to purchase. If the store has the particular version in stock, the customer can reserve it and choose a time to pick it up in all Apple Watch countries.
While Apple had initially planned to launch the Apple Watch exclusively via online reservations and in-store pickups in April, the larger availability of supply will allow Apple to provide an end-to-end Apple Watch sales experience in stores as well. Bean told employees that they will be able to use the EasyPay iPhone system to “run” an Apple Watch over to the customer to purchase in-store. Customers will also be able to reserve models not yet in stock.
“This is our moment to shine, this will be a launch unlike any we’ve ever had before… this is what you were born to do, this is why you are at Apple,” Ahrendts told employees hoping to encourage them to re-review the Apple Watch training materials. Apple is also encouraging employees to discuss the benefits of Apple Pay with customers, which is a core Apple Watch feature. While Ahrendts and Bean did not comment on an exact launch day, Tim Cook told employees at a meeting in China that the launch would occur in the month of June in all of the Apple Watch wave one countries.
Separately, Apple has informed retail employees that they can begin letting customers play with a working Apple Watch demo unit paired to an iPhone in the store, if units are available. Previously, customers could use a constricted store model stuck to the Apple Store table or wear a sample model running a demo software loop. Apple is also preparing employees for new workshops to teach the Apple Watch’s Accessibility features. Before the planned retail launch, we detailed Apple’s Apple Watch retail launch plan, ranging from employees offering customers fashion advice and special perks for Apple Watch Edition customers.