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Microsoft Opens Retail Experience Center

Redmond, Wash. — Microsoft has opened a fully funtional mock-up of a retail store to showcase its backroom services for merchants.

The Retail Experience Center is a 20,000-square-foot facility located at company headquarters, here, that houses a complete interactive store environment, from point of service to receiving dock. The company said it opened the center to demonstrate how Microsoft and the retail industry can address rising consumer expectations and competitive pressures during today’s challenging economic conditions.

Microsoft also plans to use the center as a research facility to better understand and address how consumers are experiencing the Windows brand at retail as they select and purchase PCs.

“With changing consumer demands and slowed spending, increasing shopper loyalty and frequency while

managing costs is critical for retailers’ success,” said Bill Gonzalez, Microsoft’s worldwide distribution and services sector general manager. “Through the immersive setting of the Retail Experience Center, our retail customers can emerge with an in-depth sense of how software and innovations can help them rise above competitive pressures and industry regulations to create a consumer-driven operation — one that consistently delivers a differentiated customer experience across multiple channels while empowering employees to make every square foot of retail space as profitable and productive as possible.”

The facility features in-store displays of Microsoft consumer products and showcases more than 25 retail service technologies to help retailers cut costs, create efficiencies, streamline operations, and promote and sell goods within and beyond brick-and-mortar stores. These tools include:

  •   interactive digital signage and kiosks;
  • applications that deliver targeted, real-time information to a shopping cart or a consumer’s mobile phone;
  • radio frequency identification (RFID) infrastructure;
  • systems integration, performance management, remote monitoring and enhanced data-security capabilities; and
  •  eco-friendly packaging.

“Customers have told us they want Microsoft to play a more active role in their technology experiences, by helping direct them to the specific products, services and technologies that will most benefit their unique needs,” said Brad Brooks, Windows consumer product marketing corporate VP.

As a result of consumer feedback, early pilots with retailers have included branded store-within-a-store displays, with some featuring trained “Microsoft gurus” to assist PC buyers, the company said.