Microsoft has opened a huge flagship store in New York City. The store will not just showcase all the company’s products, but it also offers services that a traditional after-sales center offers, as well as a community theatre, which will offer free courses.
Resembling a miniature mall, Microsoft’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan is certainly an expensive gamble at retail sales. However, looking inside the store, it is amply clear that the company is keen to showcase what it is doing, rather than trying to sell devices at the one of the world’s most famous shopping thoroughfares. It’s evident that Microsoft’s game plan certainly won’t offer even a smidgen of a reasonable rate of return, but the rows upon rows of products will certainly offer an extensive in-depth view of what Microsoft does or is associated with.
Microsoft has over a 100 stores in the United States — 112 to be precise. The Fifth Avenue store won’t just be the 113th, but it has also been designed to offer an exclusive one-to-one interaction, be it a curious walk-in potential customer or a hardcore Microsoft fan, said Kelly Soligon, general manager of worldwide marketing for Microsoft’s online and retail stores.
“We’ve designed this store to be really inviting and very customer-focused. It’s all about customers getting hands on with the technology and having space and time to experience and play with the products. One of the things that we love about being the Microsoft Store and the flagship store is the ability to showcase those products immediately.”
The fact that the store greets you with a 30-foot vertical video wall that constantly shows Microsoft products certainly proves the company’s intentions behind the flagship store. Interestingly, just like the Apple Store a few paces away, there is a visible absence of cash registers or checkout counters anywhere around the store, reported USA Today. Microsoft is clearly relying on mobile and digital point of sales, which essentially allows people to checkout anywhere in the store. Microsoft confirmed it accepts mobile payment platforms, including Apple Pay, a convenience aspect that is bound to be appreciated by those who walk into the store.
Though there are no checkout counters, Microsoft has deployed what it prefers to call Answer Desks on the first two floors. Similar to Apple’s Genius Bar, the Answer Desks are meant to be a one-point contact and query resolution center. The company confirmed that the customers can approach the Answer Desks regardless of where they have procured the products as long as it runs on Microsoft software, confirmed Soligon.
“You bought your PC at Best Buy and are having trouble with it, we don’t care. Bring it here. The bulk of our services are actually free, so no matter where you bought your device, we’re happy to help you with it.”
The store is manned by a team of 160 employees who are spread out on the five floors. However, about 45 of these employees will dedicatedly cater to the customers who approach the Answer Desks. The store will offer essential software services like virus removal and PC tune-up, apart from hardware-related issues like a broken screen. While the majority of the software services like updating the software or learning how to get the most of the device will be free and would be addressed immediately, repairs will carry a price tag and may take time.
Besides showcasing futuristic products like the augmented displays and fitness bands alongside surface books and Xbox gaming systems, Microsoft has also showcased the products that are made by its partner companies like Dell, Lenovo, and HP at the flagship store. However, what set the store apart is a special section dedicated to learning.
Microsoft has deployed a community theatre that will offer educational workshops and training for free. Store employees will lead several seminars and group trainings that focus on STEM education and entertainment, reported the New York Daily News.
[Photo by John Macdougall / Getty Images]