Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of microsoftproductreviews.com, its staff, or any contributors to this site.
Microsoft had a major issue in the way their products were displayed in retail stores before their recent expansion with dedicated Microsoft stores. Physical Microsoft retail stores have really helped Microsoft in connecting with the consumer face to face. They’re fantastic showrooms for Microsoft products, and the sales staff couldn’t be better. However, there aren’t many Microsoft stores around, and their rate of expansion is too slow to overcome their retail short-comings. Microsoft looked to further expand their retail presence by building 600 dedicated Best Buy showrooms, called the “Windows Store”. However, it doesn’t seem to be helping their situation as much as they would hope.
In the past, Microsoft’s presence in Best Buy retail stores was horrific. Their PC section seemed shabby and run-down compared to Apple’s dedicated shiny Best Buy showroom. The PCs looked as if they were just thrown on a few small shelves, and it made them look completely undesirable. Many units couldn’t be turned on, and even the PCs that were beautiful went completely unnoticed, as their presentation by Best Buy was very unappealing. Purchasing and even playing with the PCs there made you feel like a second class citizen, as the shiny Apple showroom gleamed over you.
In June of 2013, Microsoft started a strategic partnership with Best Buy to create 600 Windows Stores across the US and Canada. Their stores are now 1,500 to 2,200 square feet in some of the bigger stores, and in most cases they now over-shadow the Apple showrooms. This is a tremendous retail opportunity for Microsoft, but there’s a problem I’ve noticed in my experience with the staff there, and that is that they are not good at selling Microsoft products.
In fact, many of the locations I visited have staff turning people away from Microsoft products, and steering them towards Apple. I have personally witnessed many instances where sales staff steer consumers who expressed genuine interest in the Surface 2, over to the iPad. I have seen it time and time again, and it makes me wonder just how well this retail strategy is working for Microsoft.
I have noticed a dedicated Apple specialist on busy days helping customers in the Apple section, and one is always present during busy shopping seasons. Why isn’t Microsoft doing this? A dedicated salesperson in every Windows Store helping the consumers understand Microsoft products can have tremendous positive effect for Microsoft and their products . I found myself helping other customers at times while in the Windows Store, and they eventually confessed their frustration with the salespeople that either didn’t understand the product well, or just didn’t care enough to help. This is why having a dedicated Microsoft rep is critical.
Another problem with Windows Stores at Best Buy is the lack of Windows Phones on display. Of course Best Buy has a Best Buy Mobile section, and that’s where the Windows Phones would be, you would think. But they’re not, there might be the occasional plastic dummy phone in some cases, however. What exactly is holding Microsoft back in placing Windows Phones in their dedicated Best Buy showrooms?
Microsoft is pushing the “One Windows” for all of your devices vision, and it’s something truly special that no other company can offer. However, they aren’t displaying their smartphones, alongside their PCs and tablets. Samsung has now created a Best Buy section as well, and it has plenty of Samsung Galaxies on display. Why is it that Microsoft, who needs to build up their mobile market share more than any other platform, is not displaying them in the very store dedicated to Windows products? And Why is it that Microsoft doesn’t have a dedicated sales rep that can help consumers by explaining the massive benefit of having Windows running on all their devices?
These are problems Microsoft needs to address, and fixing these issues can be a massive benefit for them, but leaving things the way they are is a wasted opportunity.
Have you had a similar experience at Best Buy Windows Store? Share them with us in the comments below.