The Apple Watch customer journey is broken


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Last Friday, Apple started taking pre-orders for Apple Watch. Because I have had a keen interest in watches and timekeeping all my life, I have been following the dawn of the smartwatch age with particular interest, and especially the arrival of Apple Watch. Apple is known for putting Customer Experiences first, and I was looking forward to see how Apple would bring to market this new product category.

So far the first impression has been rather underwhelming.

Apple Watch in Apple Store. Source: The Verge
Apple Watch in Apple Store. Source: The Verge

A broken customer journey

Let’s look at the current customer journey for Apple Watch:

– If you want to try Apple Watch before buying, you need to go online to schedule an appointment at your preferred Apple Store (in addition there are walk-in queues, I have understood).
– These try-before-buy sessions are maximum 15 minutes long, using various models of Apple Watch running a standard retail demo loop. Demo units to play around with are available as well, but they are permanently fixed to demo tables.
– Once you have decided which model you would like to buy you cannot do so in store. You need to go home (or use your iPhone / iPad in store) to order one online. There are some reports indicating that Apple Retail staff will let you order online in store as well.
– Current delivery lead times are such that for most models you will receive your watch in June, roughly 2 months from now. Here an overview of the situation last Friday.

Apple Watch demo table. Source: The Telegraph
Apple Watch demo table. Source: The Telegraph

In short: book an appointment online, go to the store for 15 min, go home, order online, wait 2 months.

Lessons learnt?

For me the biggest surprise was that the customer journey currently does not make the best use of the interworking between the retail and online channels. There are too many discontinuities and points where the consumer may drop off. In addition, it seems Apple mistimed the roll-out in retail, as the product is sold out for the next 2 months, so it makes no sense to go to the store to check it out now. It might have been a better approach to first focus on online only (because early adopters will order it anyway), and later on activate the retail channel.

It also shows that the current approach may not have resulted in a successful GoToMarket for Apple Watch. Even though Apple wanted to position Apple Watch as a product with large fashion appeal, it is after all a consumer electronics product. The GoToMarket for Apple Watch is more about launching a new product category than about fashion branding and fashion retail experiences.

Make sure you capture your customer journey feedback

It will be interesting to see how Apple is going to improve the Apple Watch customer journey over time. Hopefully they listen to all the customer feedback they are getting at the various customer journey touch points, and take action based on those insights. They are running a post-session NPS survey on the try-before-buy sessions, so that is an encouraging sign.

Want to know what your customers are saying about your company’s customer journey? Check out to learn more about how we can help you better analyse your customer feedback along all the touch points of your customer journey.

Loek van der Helm
Helping businesses around the world to improve the customer experiences they deliver to their customers. Our services help you to quickly get insights from all the text feedback you get from your customers, whatever the feedback channel.


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