Apple is preparing to expand the sales effort behind the Apple Watch after it was announced that Best Buy will begin selling it in its U.S. stores from August 7, making it the first independent retailer to stock the wearable device.
In its most recent quarterly report issued last week, Apple declined to break out sales of its new wearable device — which debuted in April — other than to say that they “did exceed our expectations.” Analyst firms provided an array of predictions for that number — Strategy Analytics, for one, estimated that Apple shipped 4 million watches in Q2 — but it’s largely agreed that, regardless of the exact figure, the Apple Watch was the most popular wearable device during its first quarter of business.
Given that context, expanding into physical retailers represents an opportunity to build on that launch quarter and reach consumers who might not have otherwise known about, or indeed come into literal contact with, the device.
Increasing consumer touch points is an important strategy for Apple, CEO Tim Cook explained on last week’s earnings call.
“The Apple Watch sell-through was higher than the comparable launch periods of the original iPhone or the original iPad. We only had 680 points of sale in the quarter for the Watch. Online sales were so great that we did not have inventory in our sales until June,” he said.
Cook added that the objective for the first quarter of the Apple Watch “wasn’t primarily sales but also how we position the product in the long term because we are starting a new product category.” Thus, it makes sense that — with some apparent momentum, even if we don’t have exact figures — Apple is quickly expanding its retail efforts beyond online and its own retail stores and into popular, nationwide retailers.
Apple confirmed to TechCrunch that more than 300 Best Buy stores will sell both the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport model “in time for the holiday shopping season,” although initially the wearable device will come to a selected 100 stores.
“The Apple Watch is an important addition to an emerging product category, and we know our customers want it. We are excited to bring Apple Watch to more consumers, especially with the holidays coming up,” added Best Buy’s Jason Bonfig in a statement.
The Best Buy partnership will be interesting because Apple has placed a huge amount of emphasis on the retail experience, as we found when we visited the Apple Store for a preview back in April.
First impressions are crucial and, in the same way that Apple’s own staff carefully walk potential customers through the Apple Watch experience, so Best Buy’s sales staff will be to be suitable clued-up and trained to ensure that folks who are curious about the device are given the right kind of introduction to it, since it is an entirely new product category for Apple and takes some getting used to.