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Apple reportedly will push customers to order Apple Watch online

In-store inventory of the smartwatch will be "limited," a source tells Business Insider. Apple apparently hopes to tamp down frustration by encouraging people to buy it online.

Apple apparently would prefer that its customers order the Apple Watch online. Apple

Apple is purportedly telling its retail store employees to encourage customers to order the Apple Watch online.

Preorders of the Apple Watch are set to start Friday. The watch will then be available online or by reservation in Apple stores starting April 24. However, "store inventory will be limited," an unnamed source told news site Business Insider. A memo snagged by Business Insider and allegedly written by Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts touts the greater ease of buying the watch online.

"The days of waiting in line and crossing fingers for a product are over for our customers. The Apple Store app and our online store make it much easier to purchase Apple Watch and the new MacBook. Customers will know exactly when and where their product arrives," the alleged memo reads. "This is a significant change in mindset, and we need your help to make it happen. Tell your customers we have more availability online, and show them how easy it is to order."

The memo also mentions online ordering as the preferred method for buying the new 12-inch MacBook with Retina Display .

Assuming the memo is legit, the strategy would be a change of pace for Apple, which has certainly never discouraged customers from visiting its retail stores to check out and purchase the newest products. Apple is reportedly setting up its retail outlets to give customers hands-on demos of the Apple Watch with dedicated employees explaining each of the different models. But then there's that sticky matter of inventory.

Sure, most Apple buyers will probably want to visit their local Apple Store to see and try on the watch. But that doesn't mean they'll be able to exit the store with one on a wrist. Apple typically runs into initial inventory issues with new products, often leaving customers empty handed and frustrated, especially if they've been waiting in line for hours.

The memo suggests that Apple employees explain the advantages of online orders. Yes, customers must still wait a certain amount of time after ordering online. But that's less frustrating than stopping by a local Apple Store every day hoping to find a product in stock.

And what of the Apple Watch specifically?

Starting Friday, customers in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, and Japan can make an appointment at an Apple Store to view and try on the watch. The Apple Watch will be available in three varieties: the entry-level Sport version, the midlevel Apple Watch and the luxury Apple Watch Edition. The Sport version starts at $349, the Apple Watch at $549 and the Apple Watch Edition at $10,000.

After choosing a model, customers can either reserve a pick-up date or order it online. An Apple employee will help with online orders, or the watch can be purchased through the Apple Store app, according to leaked training documents obtained by MacRumors.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.