Can Microsoft’s Sydney flagship compete with Apple?

Microsoft store pitt street“Experience is the teacher of all things.”– Julius Caesar

More than 180 days of construction since the possession of the site in Westfield on Pitt Street in June 2015, the 500sqm new Microsoft flagship will finally open its doors to the public later this week.

Located in Westfield on Pitt Street, the store will be Microsoft’s 116th store but the first flagship outside North America.

However the question on many people’s mind is how can Microsoft build on the bar Apple has set so high for digital technology stores?

The answer, it would seem, is interactivity.

The power of a store’s ability to attract customers for the experience not simply the products it sells must not be overlooked. A social space where the act of exploration with products is encouraged becomes a priceless entity for building strong lasting relationships with your customers.

Especially vital for a brand like Microsoft, who’s previous contact with their customers in this country has been through a desktop computer.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited as a guest of Microsoft to see the store in its final stages of production before opening to the general public later this week.

Aided by one of their core products being Xbox, the store will no doubt capture the hearts of the young digital natives and the young at heart.

With numerous interactive Xbox stations and more than 178 digital panels throughout the store with 38 different video feeds, consumers are immersed in the digital world of Microsoft gaming.

The launch of the store also coincides with the launch of a range of new innovations from Microsoft including the highly-anticipated Surface Book and the new fitness wearable, Band 2. Therefore the grand opening will feature a number of unique hands-on experiences and workshops with health and fitness gurus, the Base Body Babes, internationally acclaimed fashion-illustrator, Kerrie Hess, and characters Master Chief and Spartan Locke from one of the biggest gaming franchises in the world, Halo.

According to Microsoft, these experiences and workshops are a key part of their commitment to deliver a truly interactive retail experience giving customers the opportunity to see, experience and do great things in the store.

From Xbox gamers to startups and corporate businesses, another strength of the store is recognising their broad market and the need for the store to provide experiences accordingly.

Upon entry into the store, each customer’s journey will be tailored and unique thanks to more than 50 staff have been hired for the Sydney store who speak more than 27 different languages and are from 10 different countries. Then zones throughout the store such as community theatre space can be used to engage with everyone from the local community as well as small business customers.

While the likes of Apple or Telstra may see the new store as competition, a little competition never hurt anyone, and is vitally important for the future of Australia’s high street. Adding an immersive and exciting digital space to Pitt St mall will encourage other retailers to up their game, keeping consumers excited, engaged and ultimately spending!

Retail consultant and advisor, Brian Walker is founder and CEO of Retail Doctor Group and can be contacted on (02) 9460 2882 or brian@retaildoctor.com.au.

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Comments

1 comment

  1. Figjam posted on November 11, 2015

    Stupid leasing decision really. Pitt Street Mall has to soon lift it's game as the fashion heart of Sydney in order to compete with an emerging George Street pedestrian precinct. Will Pitt St Mall remain the shopping mecca and retain Australia's highest rents per sqm? Or will it be pushed into second place after George Street? Faced with that challenge in their future the dopey landlords kick out fashion operators in Pitt St Mall and put in a Microsoft computer store, Vodaphone, and Zara Home (just like a Lowes for sheets etc)? Honestly....

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