How Will Apple Deal with Supply and Demand for the Apple Watch?

With the Apple Watch, Apple is entering a new retail channel. As MacRumors points out, Apple is opening Apple Watch shops in several department stores, such as Galleries Lafayette in Paris, Selfridges in London, and Isetan in Tokyo.

But in this type of retail channel, watches that are displayed are in stock. You don’t go to a store like that to see an item and find that you can’t buy it, and, if you order it, you must wait a month or more for delivery.

Apple, however, is used to this type of supply constraint. When a new iPhone goes on sale, early birds get day-and-date delivery, while those who order a few hours later may need to wait from a week to a month, or even more, to get their phones. We’re used to this with new tech gadgets; we wouldn’t buy blue jeans if we had to pre-order them.

Leaving aside the luxury watch market – the $10 – $17K Apple Watch models – if I go into a store to buy a watch, I’d expect to be able to walk out with my purchase. This is the case for anything I’d buy in a department store. This will most likely not be the case with the Apple Watch. Apple will be displaying all the models, and will only be able to sell those in stock, or take orders.

Apple is entering new territory in this type of retail channel. I wonder how consumers will react. I don’t think they’ll be happy about any lack of stock, which will undoubtedly occur when the Apple Watch is released.

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