Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Inside Apple's gigantic Apple Watch rollout

Mike Elgan | March 24, 2015
The Apple Watch may or may not be an impressive piece of design or technology. But one thing is certain: Apple's preparations for retail sales of the watch are amazing.

The Apple Watch may or may not be an impressive piece of design or technology. But one thing is certain: Apple's preparations for retail sales of the watch are amazing.

Let's take a look at the enormous effort Apple has made to prepare for its smallest product yet.

A $73 million-per-year retail chief

Most of Apple's plans and deals around how it will sell the Apple Watch are still unknown. But it's always telling to follow the money.

Apple last year brought in Angela Ahrendts, the former CEO of luxury brand Burberry Group, to run its Apple Watch retail push. We learned recently that Ahrendts' total compensation package was $73.4 million for 2014 — long before the Apple Watch even shipped.

In comparison, CEO Tim Cook made $9.22 million.

Dedicated Apple Watch stores

Apple has 453 retails stores worldwide. But that's not enough to sell the Apple Watch, apparently.

Apple is building Apple Watch stores inside luxury department stores to sell its Edition line of watches, and it may even be constructing stand-alone stores that sell nothing except the watch. (The models in the Edition collection have hardened 18-karat gold cases and cost between $10,000 and $17,000.)

Material evidence for these stores is already popping up. For example, a Japanese blogger snapped photos of an Apple Watch store being built inside a luxury Tokyo department store called Isetan. That Apple Watch store will be enormous, and it will sit front and center at the entrance of the department store.

Similar stores are also reportedly under construction at Selfridges in London, Galeries Lafayette in Paris and other locations. There's also a possibility that Nordstrom will carry the Apple Watch.

Newly redesigned Apple Store processes

Apple Stores will be totally reorganized to accommodate the Apple Watch. Tables and the layout will be rearranged.

There are two reasons for that. First, selling an Apple Watch will be a far more complex process than selling computers and mobile devices. That's because, as a fashion accessory, it will be the only Apple product that has hundreds of options and that customers will want to try on.

Second, the watches are very expensive, high-resale-value products that are very small and therefore theoretically easier to steal. Thieves already favor Apple products generally; the Apple Watch will likely be the most desirable target for crooks by far.

One credible report estimates that 75% to 90% of each store's retail staff will be dedicated to helping shoppers with the Apple Watch. A massive training program has been developed to prepare the blue T-shirted clerks who will be selling Apple Watches.

These staffers will be corralled off into four "zones" starting April 10.

 

1  2  Next Page 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.