Apple warns of shortages as Watch online pre-orders begin

Apple Watch
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10 April 2015 | 0

Apple has warned that online pre-orders for the Watch will put pressure on the company to be able to fill orders.

The smartwatch went on pre-order in the US this morning.

“We will be taking orders for Apple Watch exclusively online during the initial launch period,” said Angela Ahrendts, the head of Apple’s retail and online sales, in a statement Thursday.

Ahrendts cited “best experience and selection” for “as many customers as we can” as her reasons for the no-in-store-sales.

Reports earlier this week spelled out the unprecedented practice, which will also involve one-on-one appointments for those who pick up their pre-ordered Watch at an Apple store.

Although Apple traditionally sells its new products both online and at retail from the start, analysts rationalised the change by pointing out that Apple wanted to control the buying experience, and would use the in-store appointments to insure that the wearable fits properly and customers understand how to use it.

Apple will also offer a personalised setup session to those who buy a Watch online and have it shipped directly to them, rather than picking it up in the shops. Those sessions will be conducted online.

The goal of the one-on-ones is simple: turn early customers into evangelists, and perhaps also form as ‘gates’, managing sales during an initial shortage of devices.

On the latter, Ahrendts said in her statement: “We expect that strong customer demand will exceed our supply at launch,” she said, ticking off metrics including the number of customers who have already pinned one or more Apple Watch models as ‘favourites’ on the online outlet or via their iOS Apple Store apps.

That admission was also a first for Apple, which has never announced in a press release before a product launch that supplies would fall short, even though demand has often outstripped initial supply, especially of new iPhones. Ahrendts’ comment strongly hints, then, that Watch inventories will be historically tight.

Pre-orders began at 3am ET (7am GMT) online or through the iOS app. Customers who go into an Apple store this morning on will be able to browse the Watch’s three collections, and access what the Cupertino company dubbed Apple Watch Demo – perhaps a simulation – to edit watch faces and learn more about other features of the device. There was no clue whether walk-ins would be able to actually try on a Watch, however.

Apple will begin delivering pre-orders and start selling the Watch next Friday, 24 April.

IDG News Service

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