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Apple rethinks inventory management for iPad 2

Apple has changed its inventory management policy for iPad 2 deliveries, having its retail stores hold on to new shipments until the next day in an effort to ease the sales process for both customers and employees, AppleInsider has learned.

A person familiar with Apple's retail operations informed AppleInsider this week that the new shipment of iPad 2 stock sold by some stores on Tuesday was actually delivered on Monday. Apple is said to have elected to hold the inventory for a next-day sale to grant its inventory control specialists the time to "calmly and accurately" process new shipments.

It was suggested that the change could be a "lesson learned" following the launch of major in-demand products in 2010: the iPhone 4 and first-generation iPad. For those launches, Apple's reservation system was said to have been plagued by a myriad of problems, including technical glitches that caused reservations to disappear, and resellers attempting to "game" the system.

Apple's previous strategy was to get products from the pallet to the shelf as fast as possible. But that approach was said to have caused "utter havoc" for Apple's retail employees, and led to inventory inaccuracies.

While some retail employees may have said to customers that this Tuesday's relatively small new stock of iPad 2 units was delivered that same morning, that information was characterized to AppleInsider as a "little white lie" told to "avert the wrath of customers."

For its part, Apple has made no official statements at the corporate level regarding a timetable for new iPad shipments. This week, the company simply said that customer interest in its second-generation tablet has been "amazing" and that it is "working hard" to meet demand.

iPad 2 line 1

iPad 2 line Wednesday at Apple's Fifth Avenue store. Photos from reader Ric S.


Separately, AppleInsider has also learned that Apple also made tweaks to its online ordering system in order to prevent onlookers from projecting the number of iPad 2 orders placed through its Web store. Last year, for the first-generation iPad launch, enthusiastic users at the Investor Village AAPL Sanity Board compared order numbers and cracked Apple's code to calculate total sales.

In response, a person familiar with Apple's ordering systems explained that the company changed its Web order number generating method to a random number. Now, online order numbers have no relation to how many units have been sold.

iPad 2 line 2

An iPad 2 line this week at The Mall at Millennia in Orlando, Fla. Photo from reader Chris S.


For more on the iPad 2 launch, see AppleInsider's extensive coverage:

Sellout of latest iPad 2 shipment raises questions about Apple's international launch

Overwhelming iPad 2 demand continues, Apple's online orders now ship in 4-5 weeks

Some Apple stores plan to open early Tuesday for iPad 2 sales

'Amazing' demand for iPad 2 seen as 'insurmountable lead' for Apple

iPad 2 sells out in many locations after stoking hours-long lines

Don't be surprised if Apple sells 1M of iPad 2 this weekend, analyst says