Microsoft to Permanently Close All Retail Stores
Microsoft said on Friday it will permanently close all of its 83 store locations and will instead focus on its e-commerce business, where customers can visit for support, sales, training and more. The decision comes after Microsoft temporarily closed stores in March due to the spread of the coronavirus. Microsoft said the thousands of workers from these stores have already transitioned to new roles where they're providing sales, training, and support to customers from Microsoft corporate facilities or remotely. Microsoft added that the company has seen significant growth in its digital storefronts, including Microsoft.com and stores on Xbox and Windows, and that it will continue to invest in digital innovation across software and hardware.
Total Retail's Take: Microsoft opened its first brick-and-mortar store in 2009, where people could go to try the company's software and hardware. This decision was made after Apple, its main competitor, was enjoying great success and popularity with its modern, clean retail outlets. Over the past decade, Microsoft expanded its retail presence in an effort to create a shopping experience similar to Apple’s. However, while the retail outlets let users try its Surface models and test out Xbox games, they often suffered from a lower level of interest and foot traffic than nearby Apple stores. Therefore, it's not a surprise that Microsoft isn't reopening post-pandemic.
Kudos to Microsoft for seamlessly transitioning its retail workers to other positions within the organization. Unlike other retailers that have had to furlough or lay off in-store workers, Microsoft has been able to transition them all to new roles, in which they're providing sales, training and support to customers from Microsoft corporate facilities or remotely. How was it able to do that? According to Microsoft Corporate Vice President David Porter, the company "deliberately built teams with unique backgrounds and skills that could serve customers from anywhere. The evolution of our workforce ensured we could continue to serve customers of all sizes when they needed us most, working remotely these last months."