Apple stores are iconic: they give an awesome retail experience to customers who are either there to purchase a new Apple product or to simply seek service or repair for the ones they own. They have been relatively successful and are always bustling with customers. This is despite Apple’s products being priced exorbitantly: the iMac, MaBook, iPhone, and iPad are more expensive compared to their competitors. In some instances, the price gap is two to three times higher.
Despite Apple demanding a premium price for its products, Apple stores in the United States and around the world are bustling, whereas you can hear a pin drop in Microsoft’s.
Unfortunately for the company who created Windows, the Microsoft stores are not a big hit to general consumers: it’s regularly empty save for the guy who is playing around with the XBox.
Anyway, there are a few things Bill Gates and his team can pick up from Tim Cook’s band of brothers in terms of…well…everything. Here are some of the most notable ones:
Showcase their own products
If you stumble upon a Microsoft store, you’ll notice that apart from its own products like the Surface and XBox, it features laptops and computers made by different manufacturers, like Acer and Lenovo. Sure, Microsoft does a great job in allotting real estate to its products and that of the manufacturers supporting Windows, but somehow their efforts are not clicking.
Meanwhile, Apple barely showcases other products – it focuses on promoting their very own. Bear in mind that the company makes its own computers, smartphones, and tablets – contrary to Microsoft who relies on other manufacturers. This is one of the reasons why Apple stores are among the most profitable retail outlets throughout the world.
The minimalist interior
There is a little magic in the designs of various Apple Stores around the world. If you look at tables, desks, and the walls, there’s nothing special in them. In fact, all of these elements are far too plain: the design is like what you would expect from an Apple product or operating system. However, the things it lacks are what makes it sell: the minimalist design effectively emphasizes each Apple product sitting on display.
The lackluster and plain environments around the iMacs, MacBooks, and iPhones makes it seem like these devices descended from the heavens. In simpler terms, Apple made their interior design look nothing special in order to make their products pop out more. It’s a simple and subtle, yet ingenious way of designing a retail store.
Meanwhile, in Microsoft Stores:
Don’t get me wrong: the interior design is beautiful – there is technically nothing wrong with it. However, this attribute is why it isn’t clicking well.
For example, look at the Grand Canyon wallpaper. It draws the attention of the customers from the laptops and though it enhances the store’s design from an aesthetic standpoint, it does not do any of the displayed laptops justice. Instead of this iconic landmark, why not put up photos and posters of Microsoft products? If you look at Apple’s stores, it’s what they are doing.
Bear in mind that when designing a retail store, all elements should be in sync to make consumers focus on the products. Apple perfected this, and it’s what Microsoft needs to emulate.
The amazing atmosphere
Entering an Apple store is like entering a castle filled with employees who live to serve. The welcoming atmosphere is what sets it apart compared to other retail outlets – and you can do (almost) anything you want with the computers – just be sure it’s within reason and not bothering other customers, however. There are teenagers who use the iMac camera to take selfies and upload the photos on Facebook, while there are stories of homeless people using the computers for video chat – and this is totally fine.
Apple stores also have what they call a “Clap Out”, wherein employees and managers applaud newcomers on their first day and resignees who are on their last. It’s a befuddling experience to most new employees, but a fulfilling and tearjerking one for those about to leave. Employees also applaud customers as they enter: it’s receiving a lot of hate from people who somehow have a score to settle with Apple, but it’s one way to make customers feel like they are welcome.
Although Microsoft’s Answer Desk is at par with Apple’s Genius Bar, there is nothing in Microsoft which is like Apple store’s culture. The feedback on the Answer Desk is generally positive – it’s easy to set up an appointment and the people assisting you know what they are doing. They even check with the manufacturer if your laptop is still under warranty.
Overall, there are a lot of things Microsoft should pick up from Apple. First is to emphasize its own products in their own stores, second is to design their interiors in a way that makes their products pop, and lastly, develop their own unique culture!