Microsoft Closing Nearly All Retail Stores Globally In Favor Of New Online Approach

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The coronavirus (COVID-19) has hit the business sector particularly hard over the past few months, and some big-name companies have either been forced to drastically change their operations, or have closed their doors altogether. Even a tech giant like Microsoft is not immune to the aftereffects of COVID-19, as the company has announced a “strategic change” in its retail operations going forward.  

The change means that most of the company’s Microsoft Store physical locations will be closing down shortly. Microsoft’s endeavor towards physical stores was modeled in part on the very successful Apple Stores. Customers were able to walk into a Microsoft Store and lay hands on all of the company’s latest hardware products, and even bring in Microsoft hardware in for service. Likewise, customers were able to attend workshops and other in-store events; just like a certain fruit company.

Most Microsoft Stores are located within shopping malls; many of which have been closed around the world in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19. While Microsoft is closing most of its physical retail storefronts, it will operate what it calls “Microsoft Experience Centers” in New York City, the Redmond campus, London and Sydney.

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Going forward, Microsoft will refocus its retail resources on its digital storefronts. The company says that it has witnessed significant growth in sales at and through its Xbox and Windows digital storefront, which reach a total of 1.2 billion people each month across 190 global markets. Going forward, the company will be bulking up its online efforts with 1:1 video chat with support personnel, virtual workshops and more.

“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,” said Microsoft Corporate VP David Porter. “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.

“It is a new day for how Microsoft Store team members will serve all customers,” Porter added. “We are energized about the opportunity to innovate in how we engage with all customers, maximize our talent for greatest impact, and most importantly help our valued customers achieve more.”

The first Microsoft Store retail locations opened up back in 2009, and were closed this year – due to COVID-19 -- prior to the company’s big Spring Surface Refresh which included new devices like the Surface Book 3 and Surface Go 2.