As I see the apple watch due out on April 24th, 2015 and preorders beginning on April 10th the first thing that crosses my mind is “the supply chain!” What a great feat this fellows have to accomplish in the following weeks. As you may imagine this is not a last minute trick. The supply team is involved from the very beginning when concepts have to materialize in prototypes and ways to manufacture a new product that nobody is producing today. A lot of care, planning and consideration goes into every Apple product.
To begin with understanding such challenging supply needs you have to go back and study demand patterns. That takes you back to concepts and a crystal ball that should tell you a product forecast. I mean who actually knows how many of this Apple Watch are going to sell? That answer may seem impossible to obtain so you step back again and ask questions like: Who will buy this Apple Watch? Consumer trend? Consumer need? Historic launch of similar products? Similar products already in the market today? And many other market questions to get a forecast that becomes the best educated guess you can produce.
But still on questions as who will buy a Smart Watch such as the Apple Watch? There´s a need to step back even farther to the beginnings and try to figure it out: THE CONSUMER. I´ve seen a lot of reviews on “should you buy the Apple Watch” and kind of give me some insight on that profile that will want a watch linked to your IPhone that gives all sorts of information far beyond the time (which but the way it corrects itself to be extra accurate far beyond your average mechanical watch). It can tell you when messages come in and see them in your wrist. All the health information to make a sport watch such as pedometer, heart rate, altitude and relate that data to training programs. Answer calls and listen to music.
Some critics are saying that the Apple Watch is something that you probably get just to show off to friends and the public in general. Having a price tag starting at 350 US Dollars and you probably would get a 500 Dollar model because that´s the one you REALLY want, and offering all this variety of gadgetry it sure is a piece of conversation. I don´t see myself answering a call on my wrist, or reading messages in a smaller screen than my phone witch I already consider small, but that´s me. This takes me to the answer of who and how many people will get one. It is a matter of choice. What works for me is not necessary what works for you or the rest of the world.
Choice is the way forward for the forecast of innovative product like the Apple Watch. People will first try out the new technology and then we can forecast sales and work in a backward integration to the supply chain. That said, the supply chain has to have a very important characteristic: The supply chain has to be able to adapt quickly. This means flexibility on all levels. To reach this flexibility you have to partner and work very closely with your suppliers and get them on board your flexibility bus. This includes their early involvement in the process and understanding the drivers behind their activities to get you their contribution to your new product; set to revolutionize the industry and sell millions or….maybe not as many and instead as a small niche market. Nobody should be “hurt” in the learning process.