“New York’s a natural place to put up a physical marketing and branding site,” said Will Ander, a senior partner at McMillanDolittle, a Chicago-based retail consulting firm. “I don’t think they are trying to make money from a product point of view. [If they were], we would see 20 of them or 50 of them in the year.”
Years after scaling back on its retail strategy, Microsoft has recently kick-started a new campaign to eventually open 75 stores nationwide over the next few years. The plan is conveniently timed for the release of Windows 8, its latest operating software, sometime this year.
While the Seattle-based software maker may not replicate the success of Apple’s retail campaign (more than 240 stores nationwide and counting), opening its own stores, such as the latest one in Bridgewater Commons in New Jersey, will help bring the Microsoft brand back to the consumer instead of relying on third-party vendors to do the trick.
“When you go into a broader-based electronics user, they’re supposed to be a master of many products,” Mr. LaPierre said. A sales clerk at Best Buy may not be as intimately knowledgeable about a Windows smartphone as a clerk working at a Microsoft store, for instace.
Better instead to mimic the Apple model, where not only is the brand’s arsenal of popular products available under one roof, but an army of salespeople and technicians are there to walk each consumer through any of his or her queries about the hardware, software or other assorted Apple-related miscellany.
Then there is the younger batch of web entities, such as Gilt Groupe and Etsy, which offer fashionable fare on the web, often at a discount. Some speculate that they, too, may be poised for a storefront of their own.
“Amazon and Etsy would be the equivalent of catalog companies establishing a brick-and-mortar [presence], a strategy as old as Sears,” said Faith Hope Consolo, chair of the retail group at Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
An Etsy spokesman told The Commercial Observer that the company does not have plans to open a pop-up or permanent retail space.
Gilt Groupe has hosted physical sample sales in various cities, including New York. Last Christmas, Gilt Groupe—along with men’s magazine GQ—hosted a two-week pop-up store in the Meatpacking district for Park & Bond, its full-price men’s wear business. The company also does not have plans to open a full-time retail store, said a Gilt Groupe spokeswoman.
If Gilt Groupe or Etsy ever decides to change course, they would have an easier time selling clothing than other tech companies would have by selling those indescribable widgets.
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