How the Apple Watch Is Changing the Apple Store

LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images

LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images

The Apple Watch will become available to consumers sometime in April, as recently revealed by Apple CEO Tim Cook during the company’s recent earnings call. While it’s unknown if Apple will eventually allow other retailers to sell the device, it appears that the Apple Watch will initially only be available at the Apple Store. According to Apple the device will be available in “three distinctive collections,” the Watch, the Watch Sport, and the Watch Edition.

Although the prices for every version of the device have yet to be revealed, Apple previously announced that cheapest model will start at $349. The $349 price likely applies to one of the Watch Sport models, since the devices in that collection feature cases made out of anodized aluminum. The Watch collection models have cases made out of stainless steel and the Watch Edition models have cases made out of 18-karat gold. Cost estimates for the latter version of the wearable tech device have ranged as high as several thousand dollars. The high cost of the Apple Watch and the unique presentation requirements that the device necessitates is pushing Apple to make several changes in its retail stores.

New security measures

Since the high-end version of the Apple Watch will be as much a piece of jewelry as it will be a piece of technology, the Apple Store will be adopting some traditional jewelry store security measures. According to sources cited by 9to5Mac, Apple has started the process of outfitting all of its retail stores with safes where the gold Watch Edition inventory will be kept. The safes will also be used for overnight storage of any gold demo units from the floor. Per 9to5Mac’s sources, the custom safes will feature built-in MagSafe chargers to ensure that the floor models are fully charged overnight.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Another typical jewelry store feature that Apple will be implementing is scales for weighing the amount of gold in Watch Edition models, reports 9to5Mac. The scales will be used to ensure that any Watch Edition models returned by customers have not had any gold removed from the casings. Both of these new security measures highlight the unique qualities of the Apple Watch that make it very different from any of Apple’s other products.

Although the Apple Store already features many computer devices that may come close to the price of Apple’s upcoming wearable, Apple Store employees don’t have to worry about a customer shaving off part of an iPhone’s casing in order to keep the valuable metal. Ironically, while Apple is implementing special jewelry store security measures in order to protect its gold wearable, the Apple Store already outperforms traditional jewelry retailers such as Tiffany’s by selling non-gold electronic devices. According to market research firm eMarketer, the Apple Store makes an average of $4,551 in sales per square foot, while Tiffany’s only makes around $3,043.

New sales training

Sources cited by 9to5Mac also claimed that Apple is planning a special training program that will instruct retail employees how to present and explain the Apple Watch. These training programs will involve one or two employees from each retail location and will occur between February 9 and 16, according to 9to5Mac. Much of this training is expected to focus on getting employees familiarized with a completely new product.

Apple Watch faces are customizable

Source: Apple.com

The program may also involve some training on how the employees should help customers try on different bands and sizes of watches. With a total of thirty-four different versions of the Apple Watch, including six versions of the Watch Edition, selling this wearable could become a time-consuming process if employees don’t have an efficient method for helping customers find the device that works best for them. The gold Watch Edition models will also likely require a special locked showcase for the floor, perhaps something similar to what was used when Apple temporarily displayed the devices at the Colette boutique in Paris last year.

New uniforms

Finally, the Apple Watch also appears to be sparking a change in retail employees’ uniforms. As noted by 9to5Mac, Apple has redesigned the classic blue Apple Store uniform as part of an effort to create an image that better aligns with its upcoming luxury wearable. The redesigned shirt features a smaller Apple logo that is positioned over the heart, rather than being in the center of the chest. The redesigned uniforms, which retail chief Angela Ahrendts believes are “more professional,” will start showing up on February 2, according to 9to5Mac’s sources.

Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS

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