Microsoft’s lastest advertising campaign uses the slogan, “Windows Everywhere.” It seems like they mean it as well, if you go into your closest Best Buy store in the near future, you see what they mean.
Microsoft has partnered with Best Buy add concessions in the store to a selected 500 locations in the US. But Microsoft aren’t stopping there, they going to add another 100 more in Future Shop’s and Best Buy locations in Canada.
We are not talking a pokey little concession in a corner of the store either, these “shops in a shop” will be huge. Estimates are in the region of your average family sized home at 1,500 square feet to 2,200 square feet.
Each store within a store will have a variety of Microsoft products to choose from. Windows-based tablets; PCs, Windows Phones, Microsoft Office, the new Xbox console, and so on. Microsoft said that each space will also include examples of how Windows services interact with those devices as well as showcasing the latest in ultramobile Windows-based PCs.
The Best Buy store’s concessions will be installed from late June through September 2013.
Considering the underwhelming reaction of Microsoft’s target audience with their new Xbox One, this move makes a lot of sense. Apparently the idea is to get the Windows products back onto the shop floor, literally. The company want to accomplish this in time for the preview and eventual re-launch of Windows, with the latest version of the software, Windows 8.1.
Microsoft is starting the preview release of Windows 8.1, aka “Windows Blue,” on June 26, at its BUILD conference in San Francisco. But the company has been utilising a intense advertising campaign that is designed to catch not just the media’s attention but the consumer’s as well.
Microsoft put out their version of smoke signals back at the beginning of May, when Microsoft Windows marketing chief Tami Reller told The Wall Street Journal that Microsoft was embarking on a strategy to engage with its customers once again.
They obviously were not talking about their gaming customers who all complained to no avail about the company’s killing the second-hand game market.
But according to Reller, Microsoft has two main points in their new and revised strategy. Points that include, “helping people overcome obstacles to learning the revamped software, [and] altering the shopping experience for consumers.”
Of course Reller didn’t include Microsoft’s new slogan of Windows everywhere. That falls under the category of slogan versus strategy.
But what Reller says about the two points strategy is exactly what the in-store concessions promise. According to PC World, from a retail perspective, Best Buy are just mimicking a trend that former Apple retailing chief Ron Johnson tried at JC Penney. Letting third-party brands design their own showcases for their products. Unfortunately JC Penny fired Johnson in April, after his big bet to eliminate discount pricing failed miserably.
It hasn’t been confirmed yet just who out of this new partnership is actually footing the bill for this store-within-a-store concept. PC World reckon that Microsoft is funding it, but there have been no signals from either camp to verify this. But considering that the software giant is propping up the struggling Best Buy, it does make sense. Of course the news that Microsoft has also made a $2 billion investment into another key partner, Dell, shows that the company is willing to put funds where they are needed.
What’s different about the Best Buy experience? Support and staff which is one of the keys to Reller’s turnaround strategy. An ”interview” with Microsoft chief marketing officer Chris Capossela described the push as a “takeover” of Best Buy.
Of course, Microsoft already has a network of retail locations, the Microsoft Stores. Right now, Microsoft owns 68 Microsoft Stores within the United States. Each store already performs much like the new Best Buy concessions will. A Microsoft spokeswoman said that the two retail experiences will coexist. Of course the advantage will go to Microsoft who will then have 100s of Microsoft stores versus 68.
The company released a statement that said, ”Microsoft remains committed the Microsoft Store network. With 68 stores open in North America, Microsoft is excited about the success to our growing network. However, Best Buy is the No. 1 retailer for computers, and we felt this was also a great opportunity to offer a superior buying experience for the millions of customers who rely on Best Buy to learn from and purchase their computers.”
But Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder has said that Microsoft’s move is too little, too late. The analyst said, ”Microsoft’s Windows Store represents a vital strategic step forward in its retail strategy, and ought to yield some benefits.”
Gownder went on to say, “At the same time, the move should have happened several years ago, it isn’t quite as ambitious as it might have been and Microsoft will have to work hard to overcome legacy practices within the Best Buy ecosystem. All in all, the opportunities outweigh the challenges with this move. But Microsoft will not rise to the strategically stellar position currently occupied by the Apple Store, which remains the most impressive achievement in retail in any category.”
Microsoft’s latest ad debuted last night. And in keeping with their slogan of Window’s everywhere the ad focuses on the Windows 8 interface and Microsoft ties it to the Windows PC, the Windows Phone, and the Surface. The ad’s tagline was, “One experience. On every device. For everything in your life.”
By Michael Smith