Apple Retail Chief Knocks Store Lines, Sets Path To Herd Customers To Online Purchases For Product Launches

Credit the late Steve Jobs for creating a consumer culture in which Apple product launches have become big time spectacles highlighted by long lines. If you're hoping to be one of the first to get your mitts on an iGadget, you better pitch a tent in front of your local Best Buy or Apple Store, otherwise it could be backorder blues for you. Or at least that's how it's traditionally been. With the forthcoming launch of the Apple Watch, company retail boss Angela Ahrendts wants to change the culture.

Rather than wait in long lines for hours or even days, she wants Apple Watch buyers to steer clear of Apple Store locations and purchase their wearable of choice online. Say what? As much as we agree with this approach, we're surprised to hear it coming from Apple, which enjoys a large amount of publicity each time it launches a new product.

Apple Line
Apple wants to do away with long lines at its stores during product launches.

Here's a look at the internal memo titled "Get in line online" that Ahrendts sent to employees, as obtained by Business Insider:

"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."
Notice that Ahrendts referenced not only the Apple Watch, but the company's MacBook laptop as well. More than just a temporary shift, it appears Apple wants to rid itself of the retail circus that precede every major product launch and take advantage of this thing called the Internet. Go figure.

Apple Watch Online

Another reason for the shift is to help reduce the number of angry customers. Urging buyers to place their orders online won't alleviate product shortages, but it will help control the number of people who wait in long lines only to discover the item they wanted has sold out. And by purchasing an Apple Watch online, they'll know when it will arrive.

On the flip side, if this is Apple's strategy, it will need to make sure its servers can handle the increased load. I'll go out on a limb and say that Apple's site crashes and/or spits out errors the day Apple Watch launches, especially with this new strategy in place. While it's a temporary inconvenience, it occurs at almost every product launch and is supremely frustrating -- buyers are basically trading the practice of waiting in line to sitting at their PCs mashing the F5 key. Meanwhile, little Billy's outside playing catch with himself because dad's busy hoping to score a first-batch Apple Watch.