Ah, the overnight line outside the Apple store ahead of a new product launch: a time-honored and unhygienic tradition that has repeatedly illustrated Apple’s cultlike appeal. But now Apple is hoping to end that tradition, at least with the launch of its smartwatch. An internal memo from Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts instructs Apple store staff to push customers to buy the hotly anticipated Apple Watch online instead of in-store, reports Business Insider. Apple is trying to convince customers that the Apple Watch is a fashion item, not just another gadget, and a long line of unshowered campers does not quite exude an image of fashionable luxury.
In addition to discouraging store lines, Apple plans to keep the Apple Watch out of reach of customers. The smartwatch will sit inside glass cases, instead of on an open display stand, as evidenced by the Apple Watch display setup photo that leaked along with the memo. While Arhendts’s memo suggests that pushing people to buy online will reduce the number of unhappy customers if products sell out on launch day, the memo also tells staff to push customers online for the MacBook launch, indicating a significant change in store purpose. Arhendts, formerly CEO of high-end British retailer Burberry, knows a thing or two about promoting luxury. Her memo also suggests that Apple stores should become more like showrooms than sales floors.
This is a shift away from the premium-but-accessible image Apple has kept since the Snow White era. In fact, customers who have not made an appointment online ahead of time will not even be able to take the Apple Watch out of its glass case to try on, says Business Insider. Instead of the geek chic of the “I’m a Mac” ads, with the Apple Watch–which comes in a $10,000 gold edition in addition to $350 and $400 models–Apple is emphasizing luxury.
[via The Verge]