Microsoft Opens 1st
Retail Store in Scottsdale Fashion Square
Oct. 22, 2009
Today as Microsoft celebrates the
availability of its new flagship operating system Windows 7, another
milestone is taking place in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Microsoft's new store
in the Scottsdale Fashion Square was shielded by a protective screen
before its grand opening.
It’s the opening of Microsoft’s first-ever retail store, Designed to
give shoppers a chance to experience the best of Microsoft and its
partners, the store offers customers a select line of laptops, netbooks,
all-in-one PCs, Xbox consoles, Windows Mobile phones and one of the
largest selection of third-party software titles in any store. A second
store will open Thursday, October 29 in Mission Viejo, Calif.
“Our customers have told us they want choice, better value and great
service when shopping for technology, and that is what we will deliver
through our Microsoft stores,” says David Porter, corporate vice
president of Microsoft Retail. Porter, a 27-year veteran of the retail
industry, was hired by Microsoft in February to lead the effort.
Opening a retail store is a major step for Microsoft, and is the latest
in a series of initiatives to engage more directly with customers and
improve the experience of purchasing and using Microsoft-based
According to Porter, the design of the stores is uniquely Microsoft,
with four “zones” that focus on different types of technology
experiences. “We want to showcase what’s possible with the full
As soon as you enter the store, it’s clear what he means. Laptops on
large cedar tables are front and center, with seating so shoppers can
sit and tinker. The walls are lined with giant LCD screens that envelop
the space with landscapes and product images designed to create interest
and spark curiosity. Below the images, stylish all-in-one PCs are set up
with Zunes, Xboxes, headphones and widescreen displays, showing how all
the items work together to create a multimedia experience.
Toward the back are laptop bags and an array of software titles before
you turn the corner and reach a veritable Mecca for Xbox enthusiasts — a
gaming zone featuring a 94-inch widescreen, with immersive sound,
seating and an array of controllers to play with.
According to store manager Cheryl Hibbard, every detail of the
Scottsdale space has been designed to facilitate interaction among
customers, the technology, and the store’s highly trained staff.
“Our employees will be able to showcase our products in a way that’s
never been done before,” Hibbard says. “Our job in the retail stores is
to provide a welcoming environment where everyone can learn more about
our products and how to use them to benefit their life.”
Choice, Value and Service
According to Hibbard, the store design and experience is centered on
three core principles: elevating customer choice, providing more value
and delivering great service.
“In the area of choice, the product assortment in the store represents
the best, newest and most popular consumer products,” she says. “The
Microsoft Stores also celebrate personal choice and preference, and so
the service offerings in the stores let people express their individual
style through technology — inside and out.”
Hibbard says that while having an array of the latest devices from a
variety of manufacturers is important, customers will also be able to
personalize and customize their computers, Xboxes, Zunes and other
devices with external “skins,” through a partnership with an outside
company called Skin-It.
“If you want to have Disney characters on your laptop or an NFL team on
your Xbox, we’ll build a nice library of licensed products that you can
use, or you also can bring in a picture of your dog or your family and
make it custom,” she says.
Another fun personalization feature for customers is the ability to
create an original ring tone for their Windows phone. The store is set
up with Microsoft Surface tables that make it as easy as selecting a
theme and “drawing” the tone, then sending it to your phone.
“Surface can also be used to compare cell phone rate plans,” Hibbard
says. “The possibilities are virtually endless and the best part is it’s
More important than skins and ringtones, says Hibbard, is the ability to
customize devices from the inside, so the experience of using them is
just the way customers want.
Once a PC is purchased, store employees will offer a 15-minute setup
session to help customers set up their passwords and networks, and
tailor their browser, e-mail and other applications to their personal
According to Hibbard, the setup session is a key element of providing
superior service. “Customers can launch their computer from hibernate
the minute they take it home,” she says. “With this set-up session,
we’re taking the typical ‘ready to assemble’ PC ownership experience to
‘ready to run’.”
Opportunity for Manufacturers
Another differentiator for the store is its commitment to showcasing the
best products available on the Microsoft platform. With so many
suppliers creating new hardware, cutting-edge laptops, PCs, monitors and
other devices are always coming out, and one ongoing mission of the
Microsoft Store will be to find the latest and greatest products for
“Once we open the first stores and people see what we’re about in terms
of showcasing the choice, highlighting the value and providing a full
service experience for customers, I believe the supplier base is going
to want to make some investments and figure out how what they can move
into the store,” says Porter.
Porter says the company understands that won’t happen overnight and
thinks that Microsoft can take a long view and build on what the company
thinks is a solid plan:
“Retail is an interesting business. In retail you’re never finished.
There’s always a new item. There’s always a better way. We can always
improve service. So let’s get better tomorrow. That’s what Microsoft
retail will be. It will be better tomorrow than it is today, and it will
steadily make progress every single day.”
The Grand Opening
Scottsdale opening will feature Ashley Tisdale and an address from
Microsoft’s Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner, who will also announce
that Microsoft is granting a US$1 million in software and $50,000 to the
Valley of the Sun YMCA. The company is also giving $25,000 to Goodwill
of Central Arizona and another $25,000 to Fresh Start Women’s
“We’re not just excited to open our first store, we’re excited to extend
and deepen our commitment through providing technology to the Scottsdale
community and the larger Phoenix area,” Turner says.
In addition to the grants and a commitment to corporate citizenship in
the Phoenix area, the store will also create dozens of jobs. The
Scottsdale store is expecting a staff of 80-100.
The next store opening is planned for next week in Mission Viejo, Calif.
While the Scottsdale and Mission Viejo stores are the first, customers
who experience those stores will help guide the company’s plans for the
development of additional stores.