Showrooming, the trend in retail where visitors try out a product in the store, and then buy it online; is generally something brands would prefer to avoid.
But Apple has never been like other brands. After years of product launches which saw fans line up in front of stores for hours, Apple is changing their retail strategy to launch the Apple Watch. They want to encourage the showrooming that other retailers dread.
Customers who are looking to buy Apple watches are being encouraged to do so online, rather than in the store. In fact, lining up at a store will not help customers as extra inventory is not being made available in all locations. Customers who do wish to try on an Apple Watch, should make a one hour appointment ahead of time.
To launch the Apple Watch, Apple has hired marketers with backgrounds in luxury fashion brands. They have also prepared store employees with sample buyer personas to help prepare them to help customers in the store. New for Apple employees, they will need to give not just technology advice, but fashion and lifestyle advice.
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Apple hasn’t treated the Apple Watch like any other product launch. They aren’t targeting tech-enthusiasts, they are targeting the fashion forward. The first Apple Watch ads were printed in the March issue of Vogue, a fashion magazine.
The risk is huge. Apple could alienate their core fan base, or fail in the fashion world. But that’s simply not the case. On the first day of pre-orders Apple sold close to one million watches. In fact the estimated delivery time has been pushed back for new orders by at least a month for all but one edition of the watch.
The Apple Watch will be sold exclusively online for the initial launch period, but some high-end boutiques will sell the Apple Watch in their stores. However, stock is not expected to be high.
As far as the Apple Watch goes, the Apple Store is more or less the Apple showroom. Customers should schedule their appointment online, go to the store to experience the different options, and then place their order online.