As part of our Revisited series, Retail Focus took a journey to the Microsoft Flagship in London. Located in a prime location on the junction of Regent Street and Oxford Street, the store originally opened to the public on July 11th 2019.
Covering 22,000 square feet over three floors, the store has a modern feel, with lots of space, wood finishes and glass surfaces. The renovation of the historic Grade II building preserved many of the original features, while reimagining it as a platform for the digital age. On entry, you are greeted by upbeat colleagues to the backdrop of music from a DJ, a deliberate effort to create a welcoming party for visitors. To the left clean uncluttered demonstration areas promote the latest Microsoft surface laptops, providing clear information and the ability to interact with the product. Colleagues are instantly on hand to demonstrate the products and answer any questions.
As we move from left to right, passing the giant 4k digital screen your eyes are naturally drawn to the gaming area. Easily identifiable by the Xbox colour palette, this informative area is an ever-evolving tribute to the popular Microsoft gaming culture. Created to be an interactive space, visitors can get to grips with the latest hardware and software through a combination of sight, touch and sound. This area is designed to be easily adapted to promote the latest updates and releases. Between the back-lit display wall and the store window is a full-sized replica of a Warthog, the famous vehicle from XBOX game Halo.
A wooden spiral staircase takes you to the first floor, warmly greeted we make our way through the minimalist displays promoting the brands products and accessories. A dedicated ‘Answer Desk’ is available to Microsoft users, even if the product is not purchased from the store. They can provide tech support, training and organise repairs. As a community store, there is a classroom-style area which holds regular workshops for kids and parents.
Then we have the heart of the store, the gaming centre. This is the area with the most buzz and excitement, a community of gamers who compete or connect with each other in person or online through live-streaming events and e-gaming tournaments.
Ultimately, the brand aims to forge long-term relationships with the community through the Experience Centres, to meet customers wherever they are, and deepen connections with them. While not as big or busy as its neighbour Apple, it does have the ability to entertain, inspire and educate visitors. The Microsoft Experience Centre never planned to measure success by sales alone. It really is about the unique experience they provide for their community.
Head to the southwest corner of Oxford Circus to see for yourself.