Apple Watch Edition Buyers Getting Luxury, White-Glove Treatment

31 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple preps basic and fancy shopping experiences for Watch buyers.

New Apple releases are usually accompanied by lines of fans outside their stores waiting patiently to be the first to get their hands on the tech icon’s latest gizmo.Most customers looking to buy an Apple Watch at retail stores will have to make an appointment and get a detailed demo complete with instructional videos and special display and try-on areas.Apple’s most expensive Apple Watch starts at $10,000 — but the high-rollers among us can start getting their money’s worth before they even drop the cash.Apple has expanded its trade-in program, which offers credit towards new device purchases in exchange for older hardware, to non-Apple smartphones and PCs (via 9to5Mac).

But those considering the high-end Apple Watch Edition, which can run more than $10,000, can walk right in to get a one-hour, private tour of the mobile device with no waiting. News of the program expansion comes from changed language on Apple Store pages describing the reuse and recycle initiative on Apple’s U.S., UK, Canada and some other European store sites. As Will Oremus wrote in Slate at the time, the elite who purchase the fanciest Apple Watch will “get the chance to own an Apple product that the plebes can’t afford. The trade-in program is operated by third-party partners to Apple, which helps explain why they’d also be interested in securing older non-Apple hardware for refurbishment. If you’re interested in dropping some serious cash on a watch, Apple will set you up with an hour-long personalized appointment away from the riff-raff trying on the lower-priced models.

Expanding the program also helps Apple add incentives for switchers looking to come over to either iOS or Mac from a different platform, including Android and Windows. There’ll be no lines, private lessons for users and 24-hour support for those buying the high-end version of its soon-to-be-released smart watch, according to documents seen by tech site 9to5Mac. Apple-centric blog 9to5Mac is reporting, via sources briefed on the plans, that the Apple Watch buying process will be different than for any other Apple product.

After customers book an appointment online or through the Apple mobile app, they’ll get a specialist to walk them through the process at one of the special display tables installed in Apple Stores specifically for the rollout. The customer service doesn’t end there: Edition buyers get a dedicated support phone line for two years, in case they need assistance with their watch. One thing to ponder: Could such private, hands-on treatment ultimately help Apple not just in selling luxury to its richest consumers, but also in avoiding offending its middle-of-the-road ones?

If you can’t make it to your local Apple Store to try on a stainless steel or gold version, Apple reps will video-conference with you to help you make a decision, then courier your purchase over to your house. PC trade-ins appear to be fairly broad in terms of what’s included, but it’s liable to change on a country-to-country basis, as Apple has different partners in each region for its credit swapping programs.

If they don’t have a model reserved, they’ll then be able to order one in the store or via the App Store app. (Pre-orders begin April 10.) Walk-in customers who don’t have an appointment will be able to sign up on a waiting list and be notified when it’s their turn — a process similar to that used by Apple Stores’ “Genius Bar” tech support area. After all, it’s a bit harder to resent the guy buying a $17,000 watch—not to mention the store selling it—if you don’t have to witness the spectacle of him cutting the queue and trying on such an opulent timepiece in front of all the other customers. The company has recently hired a clique of designer executives, including Angela Ahrendts, former CEO of Burberry, and their luxury aesthetic is being applied to the Watch sales. If you want to skip the whole try-on/demo rigmarole, 9to5Mac’s sources say a purchase station will be set up for people to buy and set up their watches without any extra help. The 18-karat gold Edition, which will be available in limited quantities in select markets, will come with one of a custom line of designer watch bands.

Trying one on in person has the potential to turn doubters into believers, like it did for Macworld Executive Editor Susie Ochs, which is why Apple is putting so much effort into the in-store experience.

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