Microsoft’s flagship New York retail store opens on Surface Book’s launch day

26 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

As Microsoft opens New York flagship, focus is on its products.

Six years after stepping into the retail market with smaller mall outlets, Microsoft is literally taking the wraps off its flagship store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue on Monday, the same day as the general release of its Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book devices. Microsoft’s first-ever flagship store opens on New York City’s upscale Fifth Avenue shopping strip at noon Eastern on Monday, as the tech giant expands its retail footprint in an ongoing effort to challenge Apple’s brick-and-mortar success.

NEW YORK — When you first walk through the large glass doors and into Microsoft’s Fifth Avenue flagship store, which officially opens on Monday, you are immediately inundated with Microsoft products.Microsoft invites local community to celebrate and join ribbon-cutting ceremony, including a presentation of more than $3 million to local organizations, followed by community concert featuring Pitbull.Microsoft on Monday will open the company’s first-ever flagship retail location, a New York City storefront located just a stone’s throw from Apple’s iconic Fifth Avenue glass cube. The new flagship, along with a Sydney store due to open in time for the holiday season, signals a global expansion and renewed commitment to reaching out to customers through retail as key Windows 10 devices ship into a flagging PC market. It will be multi-storey, have polished wooden floors, display screens covering the walls, interactive displays, a place for people to play Xbox, and a help desk for customers wanting support with their Microsoft products.

NEW YORK, Oct. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Microsoft Corp. on Monday opens the doors to its first flagship store in the heart of Manhattan at Fifth Ave. and 53rd St. — the cross streets of a vibrant and historic local community and internationally recognized shopping destination. MSFT 0.64 % will step onto one of the world’s biggest retail stages Monday when it opens its Fifth Avenue store as part of its strategy to boost its direct contact with consumers. For the Fifth Avenue store’s grand opening, Microsoft plans deals on Surface devices, the lowest price anywhere for XBox One consoles and accessories, Microsoft Band 2 purchase before the Oct. 30 general availability, a performance by rapper Pitbull at Rockefeller Center in the evening and a “Halo 5: Guardians” midnight launch event. The stores feel similar from a design perspective to Apple stores, with open spaces, wooden benches and the help desk – a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by the man behind the design of Apple’s retail shops. “If I was a business leader at Microsoft I’d have made sure the one thing we didn’t do was copy Apple, but there was so much about what was happening at Apple at the time the stores were designed … they couldn’t resist,” Eight Inc chief executive Tim Kobe said. The retail store is one of Microsoft’s 110+ outlets across the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, but the New York store is its first two-story incarnation and is the company’s largest in the world.

The store itself, set to be unveiled in a curtain-dropping ceremony at noon local time, is just a few blocks south of Apple’s flagship, the now-iconic giant glass cube encasing the Apple logo. Parallel to it in the middle of the floor is a sectiondevoted to “future” products including the new Band 2 fitness tracker and a developer version of Hololens, the company’s futuristic augmented reality headset, which is prominently displayed but sealed in glass. The Microsoft Flagship Store is the company’s largest store to date, offering new immersive experiences to engage with customers and partners while serving as a technology hub for the community. Long known for its office software products, Microsoft has been expanding its consumer lineup that includes such items as its Xbox videogames and consoles, tablets, its new Surface Book laptop and its new fitness device Microsoft Band. Waiting for that perfect real estate location, which we were able to secure last year, and building out the right footprint, is super exciting for us.”

In the weeks following the November opening there will be a digital workshop for girls aged 14 to 18 to introduce them to coding and technology career paths, a creative coding academy aimed at secondary school students during school holidays and a seminar on online security aimed at parents. Microsoft’s Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner will host the inaugural ribbon-cutting ceremony joined by Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Devices Panos Panay, New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Richard Buery and New York City’s Chief Technology Officer Minerva Tantoco. On a pre-opening press tour of the store, the space at first glance seemed to be a bit busier than what you experience in Apple stores—with possibly more, and smaller, clusters of tables—but not unpleasantly so.

The first 750 visitors to the store will also receive free tickets to a concert Microsoft is throwing that evening with Jessie J and The Voice Australia winner Ellie Drennan. Microsoft has emphasized video displays, placing 198 LCD monitors throughout three floors and a 30-foot, two-story video tower with 36 monitors acting as the store’s centerpiece. “It would be bad to compete directly with Apple,” said eMarketer retail analyst Yoram Wurmser. “Apple has had incredible success peddling luxury to consumers in the form of technology products that have become a status symbol.” The large footprint of the new store gives Microsoft a chance to create unique branding that it hasn’t been able to in small outlets or with third-party retail partners, Wurmser said. “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.

In moving onto Apple’s turf, Microsoft is taking on the tech company whose 460 stores have become the gold standard for how retail should look and act. The first two floors are devoted to retail and showcasing consumer products such as phones, PCs and Xbox, while the third is a business focused “experiential center” designed in partnership with Dell. According to a March report, Apple’s stores generate a staggering $4,798.82 in sales per square foot on annualized basis—by far the most of any retailer in the nation.

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 mammoth displays, bright lights and open space creates a futuristic vibe, more showroom-y than a Best Buy — and all part of the company’s plan to showcase its latest products. “We’ve designed this store to be really inviting and very customer-focused.

Local New York residents and visitors alike are invited to experience the energy, expertise and service that Microsoft stores associates are known for. Most of the items in the store, which also include devices made by Microsoft’s partners, aren’t tethered, so shoppers can hold and test them and, in the case of its fitness bands, try them on for size.

The longer they stay, the better chance you have they will buy stuff.” The second floor features large areas for playing Xbox games as well as an answer desk and community theater, where community-development specialists program 70 hours of workshops a week. The third floor will showcase an extended selection of Dell products, an area dubbed the “Dell Experience at the Microsoft store.” One signature feature will be the store’s culture wall, an exterior display of noncommercial digital imagery that will change and complement the architecture and facade of the building.

Recipients include All Star Code, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Directions for Our Youth, National September 11 Memorial & Museum, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, New York Botanical Garden, New York Hall of Science, Per Scholas, PowerMyLearning, Staten Island Children’s Museum, Staten Island MakerSpace, We Connect the Dots, and Women’s Housing Economic Development Corp. Microsoft, which has a specialty store at the Shops at Columbus Circle, had an opportunity to test the Manhattan market with a temporary store in Times Square during the 2012 holiday season, noted Richard Hodos, vice chairman of real-estate services firm CBRE Group Inc.

Asking rents for the stretch of Fifth Avenue between 49th and 60th streets were $3,350 a square foot during the third quarter, according to real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield. Free services include Windows 10 assessment, extended diagnostics on any device, software repair or support, virus and malware removal, PC tuneups, and more. In the largest Microsoft store theater space to date, customers can learn from experts how to use Microsoft’s latest and most popular products for their everyday work and lives.

Microsoft stores are committed to delivering outstanding choice, value and service for each customer, featuring an assortment of best-in-class products, including computers, software and games to music, tablets, phones and wearables. Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

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