"Microsoft wants to create an environment stressing its commitment to the Surface and other new products," Wurmser said, adding that retail stores have a multiplier effect on sales for companies that mainly sell via the Web and through channels. Consumers who visit a company's retail outlet tend to spend much more overall on its products than people who never go to one of the business's brick and mortar stores, Wurmser added.
Microsoft has established more than 110 stores in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, but the company wanted to wait for the right moment to establish a flagship. "Having a flagship has been a goal of ours since the beginning, but it also was really important for us to have the right location," said Kelly Soligon, general manager for worldwide marketing for Microsoft retail and online stores.
You can build it, but will they come? Waiting for customers at Microsoft's Fifth Avenue store before the grand opening on Oct. 26, 2015. Credit: Marc Ferranti
The size of the store -- Microsoft has leased over 22,000 square feet in the building altogether -- allows the company to do things that it can't in smaller spaces, Soligon said. The store makes the most of the video displays, offering a Culture Wall designed to showcase local landmarks, and a community theater with space for up to 60 people for educational workshops and special events. Through the store, Microsoft also wants to forge ties to community organizations with an emphasis on STEM training, and as part of the grand opening has awarded more than US$3 million in grants to various local cultural and educational groups.
While Microsoft needs to create its own unique branding, it would do well to emulate Apple's top-notch service, eMarketer's Wurmser said. To that end, Microsoft is employing more than 160 store employees speaking 19 different languages, Soligon said. Part of the multiplier effect of a store in this location is its visibility to thousands of tourists who gather in New York's premier upscale shopping district.
"We wanted to do it right," Soligon said. "We're beyond excited to be in this location."
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