Microsoft recently announced that it will be opening a series of pop-up stores in time for the holidays. This week, a date has finally been announced for their opening. But why are these stores important?
Microsoft has a lot coming out this month. Windows 8 is going to be released to the public, the Surface RT is expected to come out in sync with the operating system’s release, and Windows Phone 8 is going to be made available on Nokia and HTC phones, among others. There’s no doubt that this will be a big month for Microsoft, and pop-up stores can help get the word out about these products.
The Benefit of First-hand Experiences
Seeing a product online is one thing, but experiencing it for yourself in a store is something entirely different. Microsoft doesn’t have enough retail push (yet) to make people want to throw down a still-unknown amount of money for a tablet. By giving potential customers a retail space to check out the latest software and hardware, Microsoft is able to keep things relevant and perhaps even convince a few customers to spend their money on Microsoft products instead of a shiny Apple something or other.
Brand and Product Recognition
When I go to the local mall, the only tech brands I really see are Apple (Apple Store) and Sharper Image. If I’m there spending money on someone, the brands I am exposed to most tend to be the ones I gravitate toward. Microsoft’s pop-up stores are set mostly in malls, and this is a very good thing.
Most consumers don’t even know about the Surface. It might surprise geeks, but it’s absolutely true. Seeing them in a place where shoppers tend to gravitate during the holiday season makes it more likely that they might be impressed enough to add it to their holiday shopping list. I know I’ve walked into a store with every intention of buying one thing and walking out with another.
Not Everyone Wants to Buy Things Online
Let’s be honest here: Online shopping is still not for everyone. People trust a salesperson who they can talk to more than a website. Things get damaged during shipping, and a lot of folks just don’t want to deal with the hassles.
For them, a physical store where they can go makes a world of difference. It’s a matter of seeing what you’re going to buy, buying it, and walking out of the store with it. Instant gratification is still a benefit of shopping in a physical store that is hard to overlook. You also get the product the day it’s available, and not three or four weeks later after it sells out in record time online.
Microsoft has a lot riding on the early success of the Windows 8 family of products. OEMs are also very dependent on consumer response as they invest in these products. I’d be far more concerned if Microsoft didn’t opt to open up some pop-up stores around the country. It’s absolutely critical that this launch gets the attention of the masses, and this just another way to make it happen.
Is a pop-up store coming to your city? Check out this list from Microsoft.