Shopping at Google: Why a Brick-and-Mortar Store Makes Sense
We call it “tangential marketing:” Google opened its first-ever physical retail location in London in March. While it’s true that Google does offer a slew of products–think laptops, phones, and smartwatches–the Google store isn’t all about making a sale. Instead, it allows customers to interact with some of the innovations have planned for the future, solidifying the tech giant’s world domination.
The average customer passing by the shop–conveniently located inside of Curry’s PC–probably won’t be there to buy a new Chromebook, but Google needs solid footing in the real world, even if it’s the authority in all things virtual. By allowing would-be customers to experience all the physical goods Google has to offer, it increases its viability not just as your favorite search engine, but the leader in up-and-coming tech.
The Google Experience
At first glance Google storefront inside of Curry’s PC looks like any tech store: Chromebooks and Nexus phones are on display for Google fans looking to upgrade their current devices. But Google’s target customer isn’t the one who already has an Android phone–it’s the iOS user who stops by out of sheer curiosity.
Here’s where the tangential marketing comes into play: A curious shopper might enter the Google store out of curiosity, but the store’s alternative features might turn her into a convert. Past the usual devices, customers can experience the following features:
- A Google Doodle wall, where customers can create their own Google-style graffiti, display it in the store, and share it on social media (for even more brand awareness).
- A massive Google Earth platform, where a location is selected from a tablet and then displayed on a large screen.
- Digital art installations to draw foot traffic into Curry’s PC from the sidewalk.
- A Chromecast pod where users can experience media via the Google Play and YouTube.
- Eventually, classes and virtual camps run from the store and delivered in-person or over the Web on topics like online security and even basic coding for kids.
But Why Retail?
The focus on a hands-on Google experience invites customers to do what they could never achieve on their home computer: Touching and interacting with some of the most sophisticated tech available to consumers. Google might be wise to try out a few in store surveys, to gauge customer sentiment while perusing in the Google ecosystem.
With the introduction of the Google Shop, Google is clearly competing with Apple; a brand that has already written the book on hands-on, customer-oriented retail experiences. In fact, the inclusion of an Apple Store can increase a mall’s overall sales by 10 percent. But the main difference between the warring tech juggernauts is that Apple is a tech manufacturer, while Google focuses on mostly software and a few devices. Although it seems like Google is miles behind the retail bandwagon, the truth is that a brick-and-mortar store didn’t make sense for Google–until now.
The new Google Shop could be a harbinger for Google to create more devices, but until then, it serves as a method for customer satisfaction and acquisition. For now, the tech giant seems content to experience the world of technology through the eyes of first-time users until making the leap to full-time retailer.