Microsoft Store Needs Own Identity
A RetailWire piece back in October looked at Microsoft’s
plan to open its retail stores as close to Apple as possible, even if that
meant being right across the hall. A number of people chiming in on the strategy
saw it as a me-too path to failure.
Bill Emerson, president of Emerson Advisors,
said, "If Maxwell House opened
a retail store across from a Starbucks, would you consider it a good move for
A piece by Dave Methvin on the InformationWeek website
yesterday has picked up on the theme.
"If imitation is really the sincerest form of flattery, Microsoft has
been tossing compliments at Apple left and right with its new Microsoft retail
stores. Not only are Microsoft stores taking up positions near Apple stores,
but they have adopted much of the Apple feel. Yet beneath the surface, the
two stores are as different as the products they sell."
Part of Microsoft’s
challenge is that they are selling other companies’ stuff. The PCs are made
by another company and often come loaded with lots of trial utilities that
the purchaser doesn’t want. Any negative experience related to products from
any other manufacturer become a Microsoft issue if the purchase is made at
one of its stores.
Mr. Methvin’s answer would be for Microsoft to "create
about a half-dozen of the best darn Windows hardware and configurations on
the face of the planet. … There would be no trialware or other junk on these
setups. The out-of-box experience should be quick and make people happy they
bought from the Microsoft store and not from some big-box discount place."
Microsoft has stayed out of computer manufacturing, Mr. Methvin said that is
a position the company may be wise to reconsider. "If hardware
makers don’t want to cooperate, I don’t think it’s out of the question that
Microsoft could create its own brand-name computers. It needs to do whatever
it takes to ensure the customer gets a good experience."
Discussion Questions: What are Microsoft’s biggest challenges with regard to its retail store business and what are your solutions? What do you think of Mr. Methvin’s proposal that the company produce its own hardware and configurations?