So its official, I think? Microsoft is planning to build their own retail stores and brand. Its an interesting move taking into account the current global economy. But its still an important one because of the potential opportunity to interface with the Company’s customers. I thought of suggestions on what a brand experience should be in a Microsoft store.
- First of all, don’t call it the ‘Microsoft Store’, my suggestion for a retail brand is, the ‘Windows Live Style Store’. Get it? Windows is an ecosystem and the Windows brand is still powerful and should be something to build from for a consumer running Windows. The Live evokes a connection with the customer, that brand is the people who work at the store, the people who talk to customers, engage with them, help them answer questions, solve problems and help get the most out of their Windows PC.
- Showcasing the ecosystem. I know the Windows Live Style Store will have a lot of Microsoft branded software and hardware. But the great part of it is show casing the OEMs who make great hardware devices that utilize Microsoft software and technologies. It should be one of the first places to go to see the latest Netbook, Gaming PC, Tablet, Business PC’s, Consumer PC’s running Windows. Looking at Engadget is great, but getting to experience the devices first at the Windows Live Style Store will be even greater.
- Solutions, I mentioned the Windows Live Style store being a place where Windows users can go to get answers to their questions or solve their problems. I believe this is where building confidence in the brand will definitely come in. Users should be able to bring their Windows PC to the Live Style Store, have technical experts fix their Computer while they are educated about their PC and the great things they can do on it. Whether its learning about new products, getting working done or utilizing the consumer features of Microsoft services such as Windows Live Essentials.
- Live Projects and Scenarios. The store must be a place where you can come and do things. Microsoft should setup class room training, help customers, schools that have classes and need to get projects done. In fact, consulting should be one of the hallmarks, whether you want to get your school reports done, how to use Windows Movie Maker to create that great cinematic experience or how to start a small business.
- Entertainment. I think this is a key differentiator for Microsoft from Apple. Microsoft has the potential to draw customers into their store and the innovations exist to do it, the Surface, the XBOX 360 and Windows Live should be ways of expressing to customers the fun side of doing things on the Windows platform. Some of the key elements include Game Parties, where persons can come down to a Live Style store on the weekends and play on the XBOX’s, families can show off their home movies on big screen TVs in the store. Have local bands come and play at the store in Jam sessions. Really make it an experience. Connect with the users.
Am I thinking too big? Maybe! But I think Microsoft needs to stand out on the retail experiences. Its gotta be more than just having a store thats filled with Microsoft. Its gotta be a people place, a social experience, a way of showing the human side of Microsoft.