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Microsoft Promises More Retail Outlet Openings

Pedro Hernandez covers Microsoft products and services, such as Office, Windows, Windows Phone, Azure and Skype.

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Microsoft will open more retail shops as it continues its ‘bricks and mortar’ sales approach in 2013

Microsoft has confirmed that it will expand its retail presence in 2013 with the opening of at least six new locations.

Jonathan Adashek, Microsoft’s general manager of Communications and Strategy for the Sales and Marketing Services Group, stated that the shop opening news caps a year of rapid retail openings.

Retail Strategy

“It’s been a momentous year for the Microsoft retail stores. We opened 51 new Full-line and Specialty stores, including our first international stores in Edmonton, Burnaby, Vancouver and Toronto, Canada in just the last year,” posted Adashek in Microsoft’s official blog.

According to Adasheck, new Microsoft Stores will open at The Shops at La Cantera in San Antonio and at the Dadeland Mall in Miami. Other locations include St. Louis Galleria in St. Louis, City Creek Center in Salt Lake City and Beachwood Place in Beachwood, Ohio.

microsoft storeWest coasters will get at least one new location in the coming year. In California, Microsoft is readying some space in the Westfield San Francisco shopping centre.

Citing success with some of the company’s pop-up stores, the company plans to convert some of them into permanent outlet, added Adasheck. Microsoft opened the short-term locations in preparation for the holiday shopping season and the official launch of its Surface tablet.

Microsoft is following a retail strategy pioneered by Apple.

Apple Stores are distinguished by a simple, minimalist aesthetic, in-store events and classes and a customer-centric experience anchored by the company’s Genius Bar. The iPad maker also has a habit of situating its stores in high-rent areas and tourist meccas.

In New York City, for example, Apple has locations in SoHo, the Meatpacking District and near Lincoln Center. Its iconic “glass cube” location beckons big spenders in midtown’s tony Fifth Avenue shopping district.

Apple Stores have proven exceedingly successful for the company. Not only do they draw in foot traffic and let potential buyers get some valuable hands-on time with the company’s sleek gadgets, they are potent sales engines in their own right.

On average, Apple stores rake in over $6,000 (£3,711) per square foot, topping Retail Sails rankings of US chains, according to a recent report in All Things D. In second place is Tiffany & Co. with roughly half of Apple’s haul.

Surface Kickstart?

With Surface sales becalmed, Microsoft can only hope that Apple’s retail success rubs off on the company.

Surface sales have lost their spark after an encouraging spurt of activity immediately after Microsoft launched the Surface. Analysts blamed Microsoft’s restrictive distribution policy, which meant consumers could only try out Surface tablets at a Microsoft Store or order one online.

The company has since reversed course. And just in time, too.

In January, Microsoft is launching Surface Pro, an Intel i5-powered slate that can run both Windows RT-style software and classic Windows applications. While pricier than the RT version ($899/£556 versus $499/£309) Microsoft is clearly courting enterprises, business users and enthusiasts that want a tablet-like experience but require hardware that is compatible with Windows’ vast software library.

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Originally published on eWeek.