Microsoft is closing its physical retail stores and will instead focus its retail efforts on digital sales. David Porter, corporate vice president, Microsoft Store made the announcement on June 26 through a blog post on LinkedIn.
Microsoft will continue to employ retailers, but will focus on sales, training and support for consumers, small businesses and business customers, Porter said. Microsoft had already been remotely deploying its retail sales staff and training functions during the closure of physical stores as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
However, Microsoft is not going to close its flagship stores in London, New York, Sydney and Redmond. Porter said the company will “reimagine” them as new spaces, which will serve more as centers of experience. He did not provide further details on how clients will be able to visit these centers.
Originally, Microsoft announced plans to open Microsoft-branded retail stores in February 2009. Microsoft’s strategy was to locate most of these stores as close as possible to Apple’s retail stores.
Microsoft’s physical stores offered users a place to view and test Windows PCs, Windows phones (until Microsoft discontinued them), Xbox consoles, and a variety of third-party PCs and phones (including some Android phones). Flagship stores, like the New York City store that Microsoft finally opened in 2015, also offered demo spaces for products like Microsoft HoloLens and community / educational spaces.
However, Microsoft’s retail stores never took off near Apple’s. Microsoft tried a number of tactics to open more physical stores quickly by doing things like opening holiday pop-up stores in 2012 as part of its Windows 8 push. But Microsoft was always far behind Apple in terms of total store numbers and traffic. pedestrian in those stores.
Microsoft said the closure of its physical locations “will result in a pre-tax charge of approximately $ 450 million, or $ 0.05 per share,” which it will record in the current quarter ending June 30.
I asked if today’s announcement will lead to layoffs and when stores will start closing. Unofficially, I don’t hear layoffs. But there is no official news so far.
To update: A Microsoft spokesperson provided the official line: “All employees will have an opportunity to stay with Microsoft.” (I heard that means they will continue to work remotely as they have since March, and later, once Microsoft’s corporate facilities are opened, they will continue to work with Microsoft in various capacities.) And the store closings are already basically in place. , as all Microsoft retail stores closed due to the coronavirus and never reopened.