Online Instead of In-Store: Apple Changing the Way it Releases Products

by Matt Klassen on April 8, 2015

Over the years it has seemed that part of the elitism of owning an Apple product—that  feeling of superiority you got knowing that your mobile gadget was way cooler than everyone else’s—has come from the amount of time you waited in line to get it. In fact, given the limited stock most retail outlets had, one’s ability to wait in a line for several days often guaranteed them a new device, a quick TV interview, and the satisfaction of lording it over their friends and neighbours until the next shipment arrived.

But given that the ubiquity of the iPhone has killed that sense of elitism what’s the sense of lining up for days to get your hands on a product that everyone likely already has? In an effort to disband the crowded masses at Apple retail locations, company retail boss Angela Ahrendts has reportedly distributed a memo to all employees directing store staff to push customers towards online orders, rather than endure the wait and risk the associated disappointment of not getting what you’ve waited for.

Ahrendts has referred to her new directive as “a significant change in mindset,” abandoning the free elitist hype generated by hundreds of thousands of people lined up outside retail outlets around the country in favour of the increased customer satisfaction wrought by encouraging people to purchase online. Sure customers won’t be able to walk out of the store with the latest Apple product…but chances are they wouldn’t have even after a lengthy wait.

Ahrendts memo read:

Get in line online

The days of waiting in line and crossing fingers for a product are over for our customers. The Apple Store app and our online store make it much easier to purchase Apple Watch and the new MacBook. Customers will know exactly when and where their product arrives.

This is a significant change in mindset, and we need your help to make it happen. Tell your customers we have more availability online, and show them how easy it is to order. You’ll make their day.

What’s interesting about this memo is that it implicitly reveals Apple’s thoughts about those news generated line-ups that often stretched for city blocks. For years it seemed that Apple reveled in the fact that thousands of people clamoured for their latest devices on release days, the line-ups themselves serving as additional newsworthy hype.

But as Ahrendts states, “The days of waiting in line and crossing fingers for a product are over for our customers.” But not only are the days over the long lines over, it seems that the purposeful lack of supply is not something the company is proud of either. Again, since the birth of the original iPhone Apple has always faced supply issues, as the demand for its products has always exceeded what it has been able to deliver on release day. This trend has been so consistent, in fact, that most believe that supply shortages are purposeful, part of Apple’s hype-generating marketing machine.

With that sense of elitism surrounding Apple products quickly disappearing though, it truly seems that Apple’s entire perspective on product releases is changing. Under the watchful eye of Ahrendts we may actually see a company that no longer delights in making its customers wait, no longer wants the hype of long lines, and no longer wants to string along perpetually frustrated customers.

While it remains to be seen if this is actually a philosophical change in Apple’s release strategy, one designed to better optimize successful product delivery and result in fewer angry customers, or simply a preemptive response to the same old supply and demand issues the forthcoming Apple Watch will likely have, one thing is clear, if you want an Apple Watch don’t bother with the Apple Store, they’ll be no help to you…as if they ever were.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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