The Microsoft Store moves forward

The Microsoft Store has become an interesting “group project” for the retailing class that I teach at UW-Milwaukee. Especially with very few stores open so far (and none close to Milwaukee until this month), the students have a “blank slate” as far as concept development is concerned. Most of the class would agree — and so would I — that taking direct aim at Apple is the right location strategy, especially for a tech-heavy store that is not meant to be on the same scale as Best Buy.

But beyond the location strategy lies a much bigger challenge: What does the Microsoft Store actually sell? The brand and company are built around “solutions” rather than a focused assortment of items like Apple, and Microsoft has not made a dent in the MP3 or smartphone markets so far. The other big question: Who is the target customer? Not enough to say “everyone”…Microsoft will need to pick its targets carefully, between the gamer, home PC user, small-business customer for software, and so on. Clearly Microsoft is gaining enough confidence from its early tests to start a rollout strategy.

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