As movement restrictions and lockdown conditions lift all around the world, retailers have started gradually opening up their stores. Microsoft, however, has announced that they will be permanently shutting down all its stores, with the exception of four of its flagships in New York City, Sydney, London, and Redmond, Washington.
In an announcement made on the 26th of June, Microsoft has said that they are working towards a “new approach” to retail. This involves closing down their physical locations and switching to online stores. The stores that will stay open will be transformed into “Microsoft Experience Centers” where people can come in, interact with products, and take courses.
David Porter, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President has said that their sales have gone up on their online stores as they now largely offer digital products and the likes. “ Our talented team has proven success serving customers beyond any physical location.”
Ever since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, retail stores and other services all around the world have taken to the internet to sell what they offer. Although Microsoft’s plan to go full-online seems to have been in the works for a while now, the pandemic did gently nudge them forward; it allowed them to evaluate the services their teams could provide from a distance.
“Since the Microsoft Store locations closed in late March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the retail team has helped small businesses and education customers digitally transform; virtually trained hundreds of thousands of enterprise and education customers on remote work and learning software; and helped customers with support calls. The team supported communities by hosting more than 14,000 online workshops and summer camps and more than 3,000 virtual graduations,” reads the announcement.
Microsoft has also addressed the issue of their existing employees facing unemployment: retail employees will now be moved to Microsoft’s corporate facilities where they will remotely be providing sales, training, and support.