When Amazon opened its first bookstores, not a few saw it as a paradox. Amazon, whose online book store had become a serious problem for many independent bookstores, was entering the environment it had hit. There would be ‘real’ stores, with their physical headquarters and their four walls. The company, in fact, was not left alone with bookstores and, since then, has been opening more and more physical stores in other sectors and areas.
The reality is that, although Amazon has been the big viral name, it is not the only internet company that has opened physical stores, corners or ‘face-to-face’ actions to connect with its consumers. The latest to join the trend seems almost more unexpected, because it is not a store and it is not a brand that, from the outset, sells something tangible.
Google is opening a store in New York. Unlike other previous actions, Google is not going to open a pop-up store or a limited action, but a store with a vocation of permanence. As published by The Wall Street Journal, the Google Store will open in the coming weeks in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, where Alphabet already has a campus, and will serve as a showcase for the giant’s products.
In the space you can see Pixel phones, Nest smart thermostats or Fitbit devices (company, let’s not forget, which is owned by the company). Those interested will be able to buy the terminals in that space, which will also function as an area for repairs or for workshops and similar events.
Google, they recall in the Journal, is thus following in the footsteps of Apple (which started its own stores in 2002), but not those of Microsoft, which has announced that it will close its stores.
Does this mean that Google is going to sell more stuff? What is going to become a kind of wannabe a new Apple? It seems unlikely, so why does Google want a physical store?
An opportunity for experiences
The key is in a fundamental word that was mentioned every time they talked about why Amazon was opening stores. It is that of experience.
In the end, it is what can even be seen in the explanations that Google has given to the opening. The giant speaks of a “space where consumers can experience our hardware and services in a useful way.” As Forbes recalls, the store will allow visitors to try, experience, the products in a “variety of immersive ways.”
It is not yet known what or how they will be, but if you talk about immersion and create the illusion of something new it seems unlikely that it is simply showing the devices on shelves. Google talks about listening to consumers, that their products live.
Therefore, Google is simply seizing a potential new opportunity to create brand experiences and to connect with consumers in another way. Experiences have become the obsessive factor that companies work on in their marketing strategy in recent years and physical spaces are a basic environment to create them.