Apple Watch Orders to Remain Online Only Through May, Internal Memo Reveals

Apple watch store

The latest memo signed by Apple head of retail Angela Ahrendts eliminates the confusion around the Apple Watch launch and purchase options. It also corroborates earlier reports of orders being limited to the online store (via 9to5Mac, iGen.fr).

Apple’s press release published just before the Watch pre-orders went live had already suggested that orders would be online only, at least for the initial launch period, but the memo sent to retail store employees adds a timeframe: Apple Watch orders will continue to be taken online only from April 24 through May. Apple Watch deliveries will start on April 24 as planned.

The feedback from customers is overwhelmingly positive. They are excited about Apple Watch, and your teams are creating fantastic experiences for them. Customers who pre-ordered will start receiving deliveries next Friday as planned, and I know you will do a great job helping them get set up.

Ahrendts admits that this is a totally new experience, but it is currently limited to the Apple Watch for a variety of reasons: It’s a new product category; it is surrounded by high global interest; and the initial supply is limited, just to name a few of the reasons mentioned by Ahrendts.

I know this is a different experience for our customers, and a change for you as well. Are we going to launch every product this way from now on? No. We all love those blockbuster Apple product launch days—and there will be many more to come. They’re the moments where you, our teams, shine. And our customers love them as well!

This also means that theoretically nothing changes when the device officially starts shipping on April 24 to customers. They are already in stores, and you can try them on.

What does change, though, is that from April 24, the first customer reviews will start hitting the Web, and disappointed customers can only hope that supply improves over time.

Technology enthusiast, rocker, biker and writer of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter or contact me via email: istvan@iphoneincanada.ca

  • OliChabot

    We gotta admit they screwed up this release pretty badly…

    You had to order the watch BEFORE trying it to make sure you had one without having to wait for weeks. They could have simply offered the try-on appointments on April 3rd or 6th, giving buyers a week to try them out in store and choose their favorite. Pre-order starts on April 10th, and a lot of customers already know what they want, thus leading to less returns and more stock (since some people ordered 2 models to make sure they get the one they prefer, and returning the other).

    I think another bad move was to keep it online-only. Many people (including myself) like to get to the Apple Store the day of the release to get the item they want and not have to get it delivered. Like the iPhone 6, I simply reserved one for the release day, got to the Store and after 30 minutes I had my iPhone !

    Altough I love Apple and their strategies, this release probably couldn’t get any weirder. You purchase a watch before trying it out, you don’t have any stock for release day (and we can fairly assume that still many people will line up the 24th to try to get their hands on one, not everyone read forums and Angela’s personal notes…), you give a two-week window for delivery…

    Am I the only one to think this is pretty screwed up ?

  • faythebest

    You are absolutely right, Apple totally screwed up big time. They acted like an unprofessional company! Now we have to check every time the status of our orders and make sure someone is at home when it is going to be delivered. And if the delivery driver is too lazy, he will leave a note to pick up the parcel. I would had preferred the in-store pick up option. I think Angela needs more training! Disappointment!

  • OliChabot

    What must’ve happen is that they were expecting WAY less orders than what they receive. And when they realized they would probably not have enough stock to fulfill the stores, they decided to go online-only to make sure no one is disappointed by going to the store. Still, that does not excuse them, but I am pretty sure they is a reason behind that. If they had production issues they needed to take actions but an online-only option is not the best solution in my opinion… The best option IMO would have been :

    You take preorders a week after people had the chance to try them in-store AND/OR people have an option to reserve in store. They get there on release day, two separate lines: one for reservations and one for no-res. the no reservation customers can still meet an employee, get a 10 minutes try-on to find their favorite, and can exit the store with a watch. Other people like myself would have tried the watch prior release, pre-ordered one for pick-up at my local store, got there on the 24th, meet an employee that would take 10 minutes to proceed my payment and show me some functions of the watch, and everyone is happy !

  • faythebest

    That would have been awesome. Like the iPhone 6 launch was not bad at all, they had two lines, one for reservation and pick up and the other for no reservation. I hope they will learn from this bad experience.

  • They definitely could have handled the launch differently, but to accommodate 9 launch countries and 38 total combinations of Apple Watch, it probably is a lot harder for the supply chain to keep up with.

  • OliChabot

    Sure it is, but everything is so weird and unsure with this release… I mean, the release date is the 24th but they finally decided to change this date on their website and not announce any further date, making it less obvious for people. You can preorder online but minutes after we already had shipping delays, you get a two-week window for your delivery, there is no in-store pickup for buying availability, Apple Store employees don’t have ANY knowledge about the release AND some about the Watch (in my try-on, I was told by the employee assisting me that TWO bands would come in the box, making it possible to switch those bands. The employee was nos fluid at all with her sales pitch, probably because she has just been hired but still, her compliments were so fake…Another employee told me they would have Edition models for sale : In Quebec City, no Edition will be on sale now ! And the same one also told me they would have stocks on the 24th, which will indeed not be the case. A friend of mine was told the same thing…). Many people who watched the news two weeks ago are still sure that they will have plenty of Watches in Store on the 24th, and many will be deceived….

    That’s just sad for them, and [probably] frustrating for us…

  • Yes they definitely botched the April 24 launch date, we’ve seen it thrown in our faces on primetime TV ads. Now, if word doesn’t get out fast enough some people may be waiting in line for nothing.

    For Apple Retail staff, learning how to fit customers for a Watch seems like there’s more involved to it based on your situation. Definitely takes some more training to get it right it seems.

  • matt

    I’m confused….so is the watch, for those who pre ordered, getting it on April 24? Or is it just shipping out on April 24? This is for those with the Apr 24-may5 window.

    The watch will be online only till may? After may, watches can be bought in store? Is this correct?

  • OliChabot

    ahaha so much confusion… I don’t think anyone had a SECURE April 24th DELIVERY, we all had 24/4-8/5 estimate. It seems that starting in June Apple Stores will start selling Apple Watch. Guess they’ll change their plan again before this time tho…

  • faythebest

    Had a chat today with an Apple online rep. Here is the snapshot. I don’t think we will get our watches on the 24th, that’s why Apple removed the launch date from their page!

  • OliChabot

    That would be really shady from them. Still, employees don’t seem to know much about this release !