Unlike other Apple launches, the tech giant doesn’t want people to queue for its watch. But the days of queuing are not over.

The Apple Watch has finally gone on sale, after months of rumours and an official launch by the chief executive on stage, it is finally here.

But unlike other Apple launches the business doesn’t want people to queue. It doesn’t want you to camp outside the store and it doesn’t want you to take the product away with you there and then.

“The days of waitng in line are over for our customers,” said the new retail boss Angela Ahrendts. Why the change and what does this mean for the rest of retail, should they take note and follow Apple’s lead?

I’ve been in electricals retail since I left school in 1979 and I’ve observed one thing, Apple is a master of PR, it can turn anything into a positive story. It is also a master of empathy, it puts itself in the customer’s shoes and thinks ‘How would I feel if I was a customer?’

The days of queuing are most defiantly not over, it is just that the Apple Watch is not the sort of product that can be sold to lots and lots of customers quickly and Apple knows it. So It has done something to prevent lots of unhappy customers.

Retail has become theatre

If you want to buy a watch you have to make an appointment because there are a lot of different options. You won’t know which model you want until you try one on, you might have your heart set on one model but when you try it on you may actually end up buying a different one.

The models you try have a rolling demo, you can’t try out any of the functions. To play with a fully working interactive model you have to go to a different area once you’ve tried your watch on and chosen which model you want to buy. Each watch tray has a hidden charging station so that when you place a watch back in the tray it starts to charge again. All very clever.

This means that the whole process is as smooth as possible for the customers and they leave the store happy with a great experience that they will probably tell other people about on social media.

Is queuing over at Apple? Probably not. When the next iPhone or iPad is launched it will be back to normal with another positive spin.

Can other retailers learn from this? Yes, retail is not going to die, retail has become theatre and retailers need to treat it like theatre and manage the events. They need to learn from Apple, we all love an event and with the power of social media we all like to talk about what happened.

Queuing is not dead, it is here to stay. Learn from Apple and learn to manage events and turn them into a positive. Retailer should get into the events management business.

And don’t forget, retail is all about empathy.

  • Ajaz Ahmed launched Freeserve and is the founder of Legal365.com