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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.
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]
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.
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....
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).
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
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.
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.
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 :).
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.)
(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!)
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.