A Microsoft retail chain may prove to be a strong opponent for Apple in Australia.
Following the success of its rival, MS revealed that it is also diving into the retail sector. Microsoft’s competitor opened its first Apple store in the US in 2001, which has since spawned more than 250 across the globe.
The first Australian Apple Store was launched with much fanfare mid last year. In the first seven weeks of business, it attracted in excess of 4 million visitors. There are currently five Apple stores in the country and it appears that Microsoft is eager to emulate that kind of success. A detailed PowerPoint presentation leaked on Gizmodo showed the proposed shops bearing a striking resemblance to Apple’s trendy retail chains.
Unperturbed by the dour economy, Microsoft has signed leases at four US shopping centres late this month.
While there is no word on when the vendor will bring the chain store concept down under, The Retail Doctor general manager, Brian Walker, saw potential for Microsoft to thrive in the local market.
“Ultimately what we are seeing is traditional supply channels changing and a lot of wholesalers and suppliers becoming retailers,” he said. “Microsoft, in its own right, is a very powerful brand and I do see it becoming successful.”
Will the vendor’s retail ambitions prove to be a formidable force against Apple’s established empire? Yes, but it has to take the right approach, according to Walker.
“But if it wants to make an impact in the Australian market, it needs to be exceptionally good at what I call ‘Retail-tainment’,” he said. “Going to a retail store is not just about buying a product; it is about being educated and motivated. Microsoft has to capture and motivate people to visit the way Apple does.
“Those that do it well are typically aware of the emotional connection a customer can have with a retailer so if Microsoft can connect with its audience, just like Apple, then it will flourish.”
For resellers who are heavily invested in the software giant’s products, Walker said there may be an initial short term effect where customers will favour purchasing through a Microsoft brand shop, partners will eventually reap the rewards.
“Through the vendor’s power branding, advertising and the way it communicates with consumers, there will have a spin-off effect on partners and high quality resellers will benefit.”