The Apple Watch's online exclusivity is about to end as Apple prepares to start selling the wearable in stores, possibly as soon as this month.
According to an Apple internal video obtained by 9to5Mac, Angela Ahrendts, Apple's senior vice president of retail, and retail operations vp Jim Bean told staff that preparations were underway for the smartwatch’s in-store launch.
Though the watch will be available at Apple's brick-and-mortar shops soon, customers might not be able to get the exact model they want by just walking in on a whim. “It’s going to be a little tougher to get everyone the exact [Watch] that they want,” Bean said in the video. To deal with somewhat limited stock, Apple will use a “reserve and pickup” system online.
Customers will be able to check the Apple Online Store at 8 a.m. daily to see if a local store has the model they want. If it’s available, they can then reserve the watch online and choose a time for pickup in-store. For now, this will apply only to countries and markets where the Apple Watch is available -- currently Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S.
Apple was previously expected to have the reserve and pickup system for the Apple Watch at launch, but that didn't happen.
In addition, customers will be able to try on demo Apple Watches paired to iPhones. Previously, the only way customers could test out the functions of the Apple Watch was through a model attached to a demo display, while try-on units ran a non-interactive demo loop.
Since the Apple Watch’s launch in April, most customers could purchase it only from Apple online. The only way to get it in-person was through a few luxe retail boutiques such as Maxfield in Los Angeles and Isetan in Tokyo.
Ahrendts and Bean didn't disclose an exact in-store launch date, but Apple CEO Tim Cook previously told employees the company expects to have them in stores by June, according to 9to5Mac. Following the in-store launches, Apple may also expand the Apple Watch to additional countries.
"I think we’re in a good position, and by some time in late June, we currently anticipate being in a position that we could begin to sell the Apple Watch in additional countries," said Cook during the company's latest earnings call. "And so that’s our current plan."