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Microsoft to Open Retail Stores, Names Former Wal-Mart Exec

 7:53 am on Feb 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Microsoft to Open Stores, Hires Retail Hand [online.wsj.com]

Microsoft Corp. said it hired a former Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executive to help the company open its own retail stores, a strategy shift that borrows from the playbook of rival Apple Inc.

It remains to be seen whether the effort can add some pizzazz to Microsoft's unfashionable image, which Apple has sought to reinforce with ads that mock its competitor. Mr. Porter, in a statement, said there are "tremendous opportunities" for Microsoft to create a "world-class shopping experience" for the company's customers.

"The purpose of opening these stores is to create deeper engagement with consumers and continue to learn firsthand about what they want and how they buy," Microsoft said in a statement.



 10:35 am on Feb 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Good idea if it's done properly.... good chance to be comtemporary and funky but if it's full of arrogant 'up their bottom' geeks, it won't do them any favours!

Wonder how aggresive the rollout would be once they get a formula that seems to work for punters and MS.


 10:38 am on Feb 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

What a really good idea.
It may not work... but it's a good idea.


 10:49 am on Feb 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

LAME - As soon as you copy strategy your competitor is ahead. It's called strategy for a reason.

[edited by: engine at 11:32 am (utc) on Feb. 13, 2009]


 11:08 am on Feb 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

If memory serves 2009 was going to be the year that MS threw money into making themselves a more friendly brand. Engaging customers more.

I doubt very much whether there is no strategy.

Who was it that invented the first shop anyway? That's a lot of copiers!


 11:18 am on Feb 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

MS need to do something to get a bit more love for MS and make it more accessible - even if many people think it's 'lip-service'.

MS need to look for a bit of love - and this may be a good start - reducing prices of some key products of course would be another :D

Hell - in the UK Vodafone were already a market leader... then they started opening High street shops which seemed a pointless waste of money to some. They had great distribution and great brand awareness, so why spend lots on prominent and expensive High Street locations.

Quite simply to get in touch directly with their customer (and to bypass some of the distributor deals of course).

And there lies the real issue - the Vodafone shop now makes no real difference apart from being a brand exercise.

So MS must avoid the complcency angle to have any chance of it working.

Hey sometimes copying business ideas is not a bad thing if those ideas are already working - you just need to add a USP... and that's what MS have to do rather than rolling out a deja-vu experience.

It's all in the detail....

[edited by: engine at 11:33 am (utc) on Feb. 13, 2009]


 12:22 pm on Feb 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yeah, this could go. Send the staff down to the mall to get copier paper and a copy of Office whatever-year-they're-flogging.

Makes for a potential captive audience.


 2:09 pm on Feb 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

A good idea, but using a WALMART executive?

WalMart are bottom-dollar cheapo quality, and well known for it (and they do it great). But, that's hardly the image you would want to convey. If I were microsoft, I would bring in a very successful luxury brand exec. Maybe consult with the Walmarter for things like backend/stock logistics, but not as a brander.


 2:32 pm on Feb 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

It's exactly the wrong time to be opening up stores, and not just because of the recession. The high street is giving way to internet shopping, especially for the kind of goods you don't need to buy in person.


 2:52 pm on Feb 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

exactly the wrong time to be opening up stores

I'd disagree with that on two tacks ;

On a purely commercial front - there's never been a better time in the past 30 odd years (ie since MS taken shape) to negotiate long term commercial property in some of the prime High Street locations as landlords are getting more desperate to fill vacancies. This is especially true in the UK and from what I have heard also the US.

Secondly, I can see an argument that for MS making sales may not actually be the Primary goal for the stores. Of course they will not want them to make a loss - but if they got the whole concept right it could be somewhere you roll up with your PC to get it checked out, repaired, debugged etc etc. Good PR and great service would make people view the company very differently.

They will also make sales on a range of products like the Zune / Xbox as well as software

So depending on how they go about it - not such a silly time to think about it.

Better than spending $44bn on Y! anyways....



 4:23 pm on Feb 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

A good idea, but using a WALMART executive?

I don't think Microsoft is looking to use the same image as Wal-Mart, but they are definitely looking for the retail/shop/whatever qualities that David can bring from his Wal-Mart days. I'm not sure you can argue that Wal-Mart knows a thing or 3 about how to get people to buy stuff (and no, it's not just low prices... read an article about their presentation initiatives that, frankly, are brilliant).


 4:23 pm on Feb 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

I just don't get this move. Apple went with their own stores because they didn't have enough market share at the time to get their products into the hands of potential consumers through other retail outlets. They needed a venue dedicated to showing off Apple products. You can already get MicroSoft products anywhere, and they are a well known quantity. Is someone really going to be convinced to get a new Xbox because they have a cool set up at the MicroSoft store? Same thing with OS and Office. The problem isn't that people don't know about them or haven't seen the products displayed properly, it's that they are either too expensive in the case of Office, or they don't work well on the customer's current computer in the case of Vista.


 4:53 pm on Feb 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Is someone really going to be convinced to get a new Xbox because they have a cool set up at the MicroSoft store


too expensive in the case of Office

Agree - that's why they could cut out the % they give through distributors... and that would come straight off the price in MS store... and then add a bit more discount on bulk buy deals of other products like keyboards, Zune etc. and people might start to think it's a goood deal :D


 7:12 pm on Feb 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Every last MS machine I look at...friends, family, etc... is plagued with spyware.

A store is a great idea. But make sure to have staff just to remove spyware...


 7:29 pm on Feb 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

10 differences from Apple stores by pcworld was good for a laugh:

But yes, if the PC related magazines make that much fun of MSFT, their products, and their plans, then MSFT does have a major public image problem.

The thing that surprises me is that the turnabout where the public at large finally sees that Microsoft for what it is might be far more near than I ever hoped for.


 7:41 pm on Feb 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

i'd invest that money on making their software better; much better. they should not copy apple; they should focus their ads on the fact they specialize in software and make it so their software can be installed on more hardware than mac os. free development tours; holding classes in colleges on advanced techniques with office that can make students more marketable in the work force.

but all they do is dance to apple's tune;

apple personifies their mac

now you've got ms ads all over of people snow boarding and playing guitar talking about "i am pc, but i am not pc;"

they'd better watch out for google who is stealing their market share with docs. they need to make it a lot better; you could create pdf's with g docs; i don't see word creating pdf's by default, unless my proficiency is outdated.

ms is getting jumped; they need to start punching the guy that's kicking them with a steel toe.


 8:26 pm on Feb 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm pretty sure we'll have to wait this one out. This could be a miserable failure, it could also be a brilliant move that further solidifies their position.

I still find it surprising that Mac stores can make it at the retail level, but you go to the mall and every volvo driver and their kid is in there trying out ipods and ultra thin laptops. I see microsoft as much more able to deal at the retail level than Apple would. So I think it's possible this turns out to be a great move. 50-50 :).


 9:11 pm on Feb 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

That's the Microsoft we all know and love... a day late and copying a competitor. Welcome to the party! If you sell iPhones you can bet I'll be there!


 9:23 pm on Feb 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Perhaps a successful strategy to counter cloud computing and open source?


 12:13 am on Feb 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

I still find it surprising that Mac stores can make it at the retail level, but you go to the mall and every volvo driver and their kid is in there trying out ipods and ultra thin laptops.

They don't have to be profitable. They exist to promote the brand. (At least, that's what I'm told by my son, who works in commercial real estate. He gave me that explanation when I wondered why North Face, an outdoor-clothing manufacturer, had just built an expensive retail store in my trendy city neighborhood.)


 6:42 pm on Feb 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Side note to the above: Corporate-owned "brand storefronts" didn't start with Apple. I can remember going to the Olivetti showroom on Fifth Avenue in New York back in the 1960s and trying the firm's typewriters. I don't recall if Olivetti sold direct--IBM certainly did--but in any case, the primary purpose of the storefront was to showcase the company's products.

(Does anyone else here remember that showroom? It had an Olivetti portable typewriter with a sheet of paper in it mounted on a pillar right in front of the store, so that pedestrians could try out the typewriter as they walked by. I was one the people who got suckered in, because I later wrote my first book on an Olivetti typewriter!)


 7:47 pm on Feb 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

signor_john: I dont' remember that particular store, but having lived in both NYC and Italy you'd think that I would.

Maybe I'm too young. :-)

Memo to MSFT: do it right. Please. Do SOMETHING right. We need you to stay stong.


 9:44 am on Feb 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

The timing is right, but I do not see that this strategy is as good a fit for MS as for Apple. Apple sell their own hardware in the shops. MS's range of hardware is much smaller and does not generate that much of their revenues.

It also means that they will be competing with their exiting sales channels, who are not going to be happy about it. OTOH, if they get a reasonable share of the market, it might give them more leverage over PC manufacturers.


 10:12 am on Feb 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

Microsoft software is very well sold here in Malaysia; and never at more than about US$5 per title - even at 'reputable' and 'brandname' retailers. I can't see the Microsoft store concept ever working here.

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