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In its next step to connect with consumers, Microsoft will open a number of stores in select markets

Microsoft announced plans to open its own retail stores in an effort to connect with customers and better compete with the extremely popular stores from Apple.

"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 on its website.

The company also said it has selected David Porter, former DreamWorks animation global product distribution manager, to serve as corporate vice president for the retail stores.  Prior to his stint at DreamWorks, Porter also served as in store ops, merchandising and IT of Walmart for more than 25 years.

Microsoft did not publicly disclose how many stores it plans to open, what markets will be targeted, or which products will be made available.  It's likely PCs will be sold with Microsoft Windows Vista loaded with other company software, with the store also used to be an advertising platform for Windows 7.

Porter will be in charge of deciding where stores will open, and how they'll market products to the public.  

"This is an exciting time with our strong line-up of upcoming product releases," Microsoft CEO Kevin Turner said in a statement.  "There are tremendous opportunities ahead to create a world-class shopping experience for our customers."

Apple, one of Microsoft's biggest competitors, has more than 200 stores worldwide, which helps draw in new Apple customers.  Microsoft's latest advertising campaign featured former CEO Bill Gates and comedian Jerry Seinfeld -- and although most PC fans were skeptical from the beginning -- the ads flopped horribly, and forced Microsoft to go back to the drawing board.

There are now 144 Microsoft employees serving as in-store "gurus" to help teach customers in electronics chain stores about Microsoft and its products.

Despite having the popular Xbox 360 video game console and Zune MP3 player, Microsoft has still had an extremely difficult time reaching out to owners of Microsoft products or potential customers.  Furthermore, the Vista operating system was not received very well by PC users, and Apple continues to chip away at the PC market while its iPod MP3 players already control the market.

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How to succeed/fail
By Sunrise089 on 2/13/2009 2:17:15 PM , Rating: 2
How to fail:

1) Sell any non-MS stuff, including PCs. You won't be able to keep the hardware up to date, and you won't be able to keep a consistent design aesthetic. This is essential to a successful retail store (see Apple).

2) Forget that image is the most important thing you're selling. Some above were discussing a dress code - they absolutely need a dress code...and not something that embarrasses the customers like the Geek Squad guys. Think jeans and solid colors rather than jeans and pastels (Apple).

How to succeed:

1) Offer great hardware service - Undercut and outperform BestBuy, Microcenter, etc on installs, reformats, and whatnot. Show off how well stuff works with Vista.

2) Discount stuff that doesn't get discounted (at least at first). Everyone charges the same for Xboxs and games. Sell your Xbox $20 cheaper and games $5-10 cheaper. Huge instant sales. If retailers protest tell them to stop stocking the 360 and see how well that goes.

RE: How to succeed/fail
By Blight AC on 2/13/2009 4:04:32 PM , Rating: 2
Well, my vision of a successful retail store would be a showcase of their products. Inviting a customer to see how easy it is to stream Netflix movies on an X-box 360, or even better, introduce them to the Windows Home Server by streaming pictures, video and music to the X-box or other media extender.

I see Microsoft Surface tables, Windows Home Server, X-box, Zune, Vista and even Windows 7's PC's (when it's not quite out yet, but hardware OEM's are offering the free upgrade to it when it is released), add in some Windows Mobile phones setup to showcase the features of not only current Microsoft Products, but upcoming ones, and how interoperable it all is.

I think showcasing especially the Surface table would really impress some customers and get them excited about Microsoft products. Even if the Surface table isn't anywhere near ready for household use, I think it would get people in the store.

RE: How to succeed/fail
By crystal clear on 2/14/2009 3:32:48 AM , Rating: 2
Forget that image is the most important thing you're selling.

Thats exactly the issue/problem !

Microsoft has a image ppronlem that their adverts have NOT succeeded in projecting or conveying.

Microsft now uses another "tool" to promote their image & they view it as you say - without the "forget" that image is the most important thing you're selling.

Like you rightly say-

"Show off how well stuff works with Vista".

Yes the Vista image problem .....

Yes " image is the most important thing you're selling".

So I use portion of your comment to rephrase it as-

Offer great software & hardware service to outperform others namely retailers/resellers/OEMs/ etc on installs, reformats etc etc.

Catch word great service for hardware & software.

Great service implies - reliability-efeective-prompt-convinience-education- training-after sales support & services-user friendly etc.

It's a good idea to give consumers a place to touch and feel Microsoft products."

More than retailer type of profits it should be a sales & support centre .

Greater emphasis being on after sales service & support. to ensure customer loyalties.

Remember you are dealing with mainstream buyers & not the IT crowd.

Discount stuff that doesn't get discounted

Thats impossible as retailers/resellers/OEMs/e-tailers/solution providers/etc are the bread & butter of Microsoft.

"One thing's for certain: It's going to be an incredibly expensive endeavor."

Microsoft has its vast financial resources to back it up in its so called so called new venture.

This is not the first time nicrosoft has tried this tool-

Did Microsoft Learn From Its Last Retail Experience?

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith
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