Apple retail chief rebuts showroom strategy speculation

'Very unique situation' led to online-only orders for Watch and MacBook, says Angela Ahrendts

Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts has told store employees that the online-only sales of the Apple Watch and new 12-in. MacBook were a "unique situation" that would not become the new norm for the Cupertino, Calif. company.

In a five-minute video obtained by French website, Ahrendts rebutted analysts who speculated that Apple is shifting its retail store strategy to more showroom, less salesroom.

Angela Ahrendts

Angela Ahrendts.

"It's a new way of working, it's a new way of doing things [but] it is not going to be forever," Ahrendts said of the altered sales processes. "We love our iconic blockbuster launches that we do in the stores. And have absolutely no fear, you will see those. This is just a very unique situation."

Ahrendts' message to the troops clearly positioned the online-only, appointments-necessary sales process of the Watch as an outlier.

"It's not just a new product for us, but an entirely new category," she said, the rationale echoed by analysts earlier. Both they and Ahrendts cited the Watch's three collections and plethora of bands, along with the newness of the wearable, as demanding a different approach.

Like the Watch, the 12-in. Retina-equipped MacBook is available for order only online; as of late Tuesday, checks of stores in a number of U.S. metro areas showed that none had the notebook for immediate pickup. The laptop remains backordered four to six weeks.

Ahrendts touted the MacBook's sales as well. "[It's] one of the best MacBook launches that we've ever had. The space gray and gold [colors] have been just off of the charts," she said.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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