The Apple Watch will be making its debut in April, and Forbes recently reported that the company is preparing big strategy changes to accompany the new product.
Apple's brick-and-mortar stores currently make use of a minimalist design aesthetic that offers customers a sense of organization and calm. Devices are on display for shoppers to test out for themselves, and sales associates are also able to make demonstrations.
Forbes contributor Gary Allen pointed that once a customer commits to a certain piece of technology, there aren't many varieties for customers to choose from or for the sales associates to juggle, allowing them to close transactions quickly and efficiently. The layout of the store is designed to provide shoppers with a streamlined retail experience, including plenty of hands-on time with products and exemplary customer service.
The smartwatch will change this model, because consumers will need to spend more time deciding what product they want. They will have the choice of colors, sizes and band varieties, and the decision will be based more on personal feeling than on technological function.
"The Apple Watch will rely on a completely different sales model," wrote Allen. "As an item of fashion instead of technology, buying an Apple Watch will be less demonstration, and more consideration. There will be fewer minutes spent running software and more time spent contemplating the various colors, sizes and band options, and how they appear on the wrist. Does it match my clothing, my other jewelry, and does it match me?"
Additionally, industry experts are predicting that the watches will come in a large range of price points that customers will have to decide between. Some of the watches are so valuable that they will be locked in safes in the stockrooms. Employees will also be provided with scales to weigh watches being returned, in order to confirm that the devices haven't been stripped of their 24 karat gold.
The Apple Watches will be on display under glass cases, for security reasons, which will make it difficult for Apple employees to manage crowds of shoppers and keep them satisfied with their in-store experience. The sales associates will have to take the watches from their cases to give customers hands-on time with the devices, which could be frustrating for those consumers waiting to see the new product.
To give customers a chance to become accustomed to the look of the watches on their wrists, Apple is rumored to be installing more in-store seating and encouraging lengthier opportunities for browsing, adopting a more fashion-friendly retail approach than it has previously.
It remains to be seen exactly how Apple will handle the shift from selling technology to selling jewelry, but the company will definitely have to shift its retail strategy.
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