There are still a ton of questions surrounding the Apple Watch, but the biggest question — and also the biggest concern for both Apple and consumers alike — has yet to be addressed:
Just how the heck does Apple plan on selling this thing?
Think about every time you’ve visited an Apple Store, especially after a new product launches: Whether it’s an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, crowds of people constantly swarm the new devices to get some hands-on experience, or even just to look.
Apple Stores already get tons of foot traffic, but new items cause mini mob scenes to form — and for a new product, especially a first-generation product, these mobs can last for months until supply catches up to demand.
But this new product, the Apple Watch, is unlike any Apple product that’s come before it. And here’s why it could cause a major mess for Apple Stores:
- You’re not going to buy an Apple Watch without trying it on first. You normally get to hold the new iPhones and iPads before purchasing them, but trying on a watch — remember, two different sizes, three “editions,” and tons of different wristbands to choose from — is a whole different ball game. Apple will need lots of supplies to let everyone find their favourite combination before purchasing.
- Customers will want to try on plenty of Apple Watch variations, and that could take up a LOT of time if not handled properly. Imagine a crowd of people standing around one of the iconic wood tables at the Apple Store, and everyone asks to try on 3 different types before making their purchase decision. That could create unreasonable wait times for customers, and consume a lot of time and energy on behalf of the Apple Store employees.
- It’s not just about trying on the Watch for look and feel — customers want to give these watches a workout. We already know the build quality and design aesthetic of the Apple Watch are high-quality; we just don’t know if the entire experience will be worth buying into, especially since it costs at least $US350, it requires an iPhone to work, and battery life is apparently not so great. With each customer trying on at least one watch and testing out its various features and functions, maybe some apps that could influence their buying decision, wait times for this first-generation product could increase exponentially.
Make no mistake: Plenty of people will certainly buy the Apple Watch — the company has an enormous fan base. So Apple shouldn’t have an issue with sales, at least initially; but if people have a bad retail experience, or they can’t get to try the watch they want because of the mob scene, it could colour their overall experience, and their overall opinion of Apple.
We still don’t know how useful the Apple Watch will be, and it’s unclear how Apple’s new retail chief Angela Ahrendts plans to handle sales of the Apple Watch, both at launch and in the following months. But two things no one likes: monstrous crowds, and excessive wait times. Those two aspects of the retail experience, if not handled carefully and correctly, could kill the Apple Watch before it has a chance to get onto anyone’s wrist.
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