Microsoft will open its first retail store in Europe on Thursday as the giant software giant looks to strengthen its presence and compete with other technology companies offering unique in-store experiences to customers.
The 21,932-square-foot Microsoft Store is located in Oxford Circus in the heart of London’s famous shopping district, and is just down the street from Regent Street. London will be the third destination for Microsoft alongside Sydney and New York.
” This is our very first foray into Europe, and we couldn’t be more pleased to be in London,” Microsoft’s Chris Capossela said in an interview on Tuesday.
Microsoft is among a growing list of technology companies that are expanding their presence to gain more online sales. Amazon is reportedly planning to open up to 3,000 self-service grocery stores by 2021. Chinese technology giant Xiaomei CNBC said in February it planned to triple its European stores by the end of the year.
The technology companies are looking to make a buzz in their brands by introducing new experiences at the store. “Primary locations like Oxford Street, where there’s sustainable levels of footfall, where the experience is much more than retail, is one of the crucial ingredients for success,”.
The 3-story-high Microsoft Store includes an exclusive Xbox and McLaren game room, conference rooms for corporate clients and a digital classroom where students can learn how to code. Cindy Rose, CEO of Microsoft U.K, said the store would appeal to general consumers as well as to the company’s most targeted customers such as businesses and games.
The store also highlights Microsoft Surface computers and tablet PCs that have helped software giants grow their hardware business. Surface hardware sales increased by 21% year-on-year in the fourth quarter.
” The Surface hardware that you see all throughout the store, that’s going to be a big big seller,” Capossela said. “There’s no doubt that a physical store is actually very good for choosing physical products and that’s part of why we’re here. “
The opening of the store places Microsoft in a rare group of companies that can expand into the industry in the UK. A record net of 2,481 stores in the top 500 streets in Britain in 2018 disappeared as consumers choose to shop online instead.
” As more stores close up and down high streets across the U.K., that will drive more sales online,”