Microsoft is partly returning to the physical retail sector with the news that it will sell products from 1 July from its remaining ‘experience centres’.
The software giant raised eyebrows in 2019 when it opened its UK flagship retail store in the prime retail location of Oxford Circus (on Regent Street). That store covered 21,932 square feet over three floors.
Redmond had developed its physical Microsoft Store concept as far back as 2009 and it was closely modelled on Apple’s retail store approach.
Besides the London flagship store, Microsoft also had three other flagship retail stores located in New York City (Fifth Ave), Sydney (Westfield Sydney), and the Redmond campus location.
Microsoft also had other normal store locations dotted across the United States and the world.
Indeed, Microsoft was estimated to have 83 stores worldwide at one stage.
But in June 2020, Microsoft confirmed it would close its 83 retail stores globally, and would transform its four flagship outlets into “experience centres” that no longer sold products.
Instead those experience centres were used to host business customers and demo products.
But this week the software giant confirmed yet another change in direction, when it an executive told the Verge that it would begin selling products at its experience centers in London, New York City, and Sydney next month.
Select Microsoft products (i.e. Surface devices) will be available on 1 July, but the global chip shortage will impact what is available to buy, it is being reported.
“Our Microsoft Experience Centers were created to provide customers a way to experience our products in person,” said Travis Walter, Microsoft’s head of retail stores, in a statement to The Verge.
“We use these spaces to test and experiment, and continue to evolve the experience based on customer feedback,” Walter reportedly said. “Starting July 1st, customers will be able to purchase select Microsoft products at the New York, London and Sydney locations.”
It seems that online ordering or pick up collection will not be available from these locations either.
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