There’s a Better Way To Allocate Watches, But The Boutiques Will Never Go For It.

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There’s a lack of respect for the paying customer in this industry, and it needs to be addressed.

I’ve been working in a watch boutique for the last few years. It’s surreal to think about sometimes. After being the person who felt uncomfortable walking in, I’m now on the other side of the coin. It’s pretty cool to be able to make sure none of my customers feel like I used to.

It’s been a pretty good job so far, but there’s a problem. The way the decisions are made to allocate watches is broken. The focus on prior spend, the forced purchase of watches you don’t want, the secrecy behind their decision-making.

There’s a lack of respect for the paying customer in this industry, and it needs to be addressed.

Hublot Boutique

But fear not fellow watch nerds, we have more power than you think. We spend the money that keeps the boutiques alive, and It’s our choices that can steer the ship!

With that in mind, and before I get too political (rise up!!), I propose a better way to allocate watches. No more interest lists, no more exploitation. And no more smug boutique managers.

Raffles are the way.

Yes, a raffle for the opportunity to spend your money sounds ridiculous, and it is. But in an industry where there isn’t enough supply to satisfy demand. This is the best way.

I recently entered the raffle to buy the M.A.D.1 Green from MB&F and to my surprise, I won. Out of 30,000 entrants, me, with zero credibility or purchase history, got an allocation. It made me feel spectacular. Like I was special somehow. For somebody who has felt intimidated by the boutique experience for a long time, it’s remarkable. I’ll be a fan of Max and MB&F for life.

Here’s how it would work.
1. Customers will go into the boutique as usual, but instead of putting our names on an interest list, we will sign up for alerts for the specific watch we are looking for.
2. Every time the boutique gets a shipment, they will send out an email to the  people who have signed up if their desired watch was in the shipment.
3. You then have 24 hours to put your name in the hat for the watch. If you don’t take action at this stage, then you won’t be in the draw. It’s encouraging you to engage, to put in the work to get your watch.
4. The raffle is drawn, and you’re invited to come and buy. If you miss out, then the entries reset, and you wait for the next shipment to come in. (Then you go back to step 2).

Simple as that.

Where things get interesting is at step three. It allows the boutique to increase the engagement and effort the customer has to put in. If I got an email saying I had a chance for a Daytona, but I had to text in saying I was still wanted to be included in this month's raffle, I could. Or I could ask to be notified next time.
If someone just wanted to put their name on a list and not put any effort in, that’s fine, they just won’t get the watch.

Although this process takes steps to eliminate the predatory practice of ‘bundling’ or requiring the purchase of a watch you don’t want, it won’t eliminate it completely. But the opportunity to do so will be more difficult to articulate. They will have to blatantly say it to you.

You will have a notification that you won the raffle after all.

Fully automated and Transparent

To make it completely fair, I propose a system that will pick a winner at random, with a slight odds' adjustment for variables. Perhaps you get more entries if you come and visit the boutique, or sign up for their email list, for example. Encouraging engagement and effort will filter out the tire kickers and reiterate your passion for the watch.

The Rolex Daytona

Why the boutiques won’t go for it.

Well, the immediate decline in sales of less desirable brands would be the main reason. If you didn’t have to buy several other pieces just to get allocated what you want, then the boutiques would lose revenue in the short term.

On the other hand, if we weren’t so disillusioned with the industry, then maybe we would be more inclined to learn about other brands we wouldn’t otherwise be interested in.

There is a massive reputation gain to be had here.

What do you think? Should this be the way forward?

Should the person who has saved up for years, and worked his entire life be given the chance to buy what he wants? Instead of getting pushed away because he can’t afford to buy two Chopard Happy Sports before he gets his Daytona?

I think so.

Cya in the next one.

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