After 11 years, Microsoft is throwing in the towel on its physical retail stores and is refocusing its retail sales efforts around its online/digital store.
Microsoft will continue to employ retail salespeople but they will be focused on sales, training and support for consumers, small businesses and enterprise customers. Microsoft already had been deploying its retail sales people remotely and in training roles during physical store closures resulting from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“Our sales have grown online as our product portfolio has evolved to largely digital offerings, and our talented team has proven success serving customers beyond any physical location,” Microsoft Corporate Vice President David Porter said in a blog post.
“We are grateful to our Microsoft Store customers and we look forward to continuing to serve them online and with our retail sales team at Microsoft corporate locations.”
Microsoft will “reimagine” some spaces, repurposing them to “serve all customers,” according to Microsoft. The Microsoft Experience Centers in London, New York City, Sydney, and on Redmond campus are among the stores that will be repurposed.
After spending the 2000s and part of the 2010s trying and failing to aggressively compete against Apple on consumer devices and services, Microsoft has become an enterprise juggernaut with its professional tools and cloud services. Closing its retail locations accelerates that retreat from focusing on the consumer market.
While Microsoft has tried to put a positive spin on the store closures by touting its “new approach to retail,” the broader retail sector has suffered during the pandemic. Social distancing measures and retail store closures have led to a sizeable uptick in online purchases, and businesses have had to adapt.