Today Microsoft and Best Buy announced a new retail partnership that will turn upwards of 2,200 square feet inside of nearly 600 Best Buy stores into mini Microsoft Stores. A Store inside of a Store basically.
The video below gives you a marketing perspective of how those stores will appear.
In an interview with Brandon LeBlanc Chris Capossela, Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer, a lot of details were given about how the store in a store would layout and operate.
When asked why Best Buy was the choice:
It’s more about being the best destination choice for consumers. Today, Best Buy is the No. 1 retailer of PCs in the world. We’re able to do some really unique things through this partnership to show the range of our products – from PCs, to notebooks, to Surface, to Windows Phone, to Xbox – and how they all work together. We’re creating a premium experience for customers at scale, and Best Buy has been an amazing partner as we’ve built this out. As we said earlier this year, retail is a priority, and this partnership with Best Buy is a prime example of our commitment to the customer experience in evaluating, experiencing and enjoying Microsoft devices, and the software and services that connect them.
Microsoft Store configuration inside of a Best Buy:
Looking at the store head-on, it will feature an innovation table in the front, highlighting the newest and best Windows technologies of the moment. There will be a dedicated Surface area and central showcase tables with the latest and greatest PCs, laptops, convertibles and more. The back wall will feature software and accessories. And there’s an ecosystem section with real-life scenarios across Windows devices. This ecosystem area is exciting, because it will show off stuff like Xbox SmartGlass and SkyDrive. Personally, I love how I can use SkyDrive on my PC and phone, and how it saves me time when sharing documents at work, and photos with friends and family. This is a chance to show our customers the same thing – to let them see how Microsoft technology can enhance their lives.
Partnering in other areas of the store:
It also means we will have a great Windows tablet table inside the Best Buy Tablet Department, Windows Phones in their Phone Department, and lots of space for Xbox in their Gaming and Home Theater Departments. So there will be a big Windows experience where we bring everything together, but we’ll also look great in the other departments where people go. And, of course, we also extend the partnership to Best Buy’s online experience.
According to other reports the employees that will work the Microsoft Store in the Best Buy will be trained by Microsoft but they will still be Best Buy employees. This does cause me some concern because of my experience when the Microsoft Surface first showed up in Best Buy retail stores late last year. It seems the Surface was an after thought and was just tucked anywhere it would fit on a shelf. Many times the accessories were two aisles away and in some locations the Surface did not have any power to it.
What happens if one of the specially trained Best Buy staff is not available for a shift. Will store managers just stick another person in there regardless of their background or training to cover things? I can not imagine that going very well as Best Buy employees do not seem to have any additional training on the technologies they are trying to sale.
When it comes to the Microsoft ecosystem it is so integrated and connected that understanding that is key to building confidence in a prospective customer.
I guess we will see what happens as this moves forward.
My hope is that it is at least better than the first time unique Microsoft devices entered the store.
Microsoft Surface on display at a local Best Buy