- June 9, 2021
- Posted by: Stratford Team
- Category: Markets
About a year after announcing plans to close all of its stores, Microsoft is dipping its toes back into physical retail by soon returning to retail sales at its flagship New York City location, according to audio of an internal meeting reviewed by Insider.
Gabe Cardona, the senior hub manager for the New York Microsoft Experience Center, in a June 4 meeting told employees Microsoft plans to restart retail sales at the location beginning July 1. Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment to Insider on Tuesday morning, but confirmed the news in a statement to the Verge in a story published later in the day.
Microsoft last June announced plans to permanently close all of its retail stores. At the time, it said that what had been the flagship store locations in New York City, Sydney, and London would become “Microsoft Experience Centers” to show off products and services to customers – but not sell them. Instead, visitors would be directed to make their purchases from Microsoft’s online store. According to comments during the meeting, however, customers would try to purchase items from the New York City location.
Cardona also noted that Microsoft – like most other tech firms – has a product shortage. He didn’t say why, but it’s likely due to an ongoing chip shortage that’s made it difficult to keep some products like Microsoft’s Surface PCs in stock. As such, the store will focus on directly selling consumer products for the time being, Cardona said, while any commercial-grade products will be redirected towards the store’s teams that handle sales to local small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) and educational institutions.
“We’re pushing to have whatever we can get our hands on,” Cardona said, according to audio of the meeting shared with Insider.
Wall Street analysts at the time Microsoft announced the store closures said it was a smart move because Microsoft stores never achieved the same success as Apple stores, and their contribution to the bottom line was “negligible.” Regardless, Microsoft’s halt to physical retail sales created a lot of uncertainty for the 2,000-plus employees who worked in Microsoft stores.
As Insider previously reported, employees could keep their jobs only if they accepted a certain schedule and agreed to work from physical offices, no matter how far away, Some employees earlier this year said they were left in the dark about where they would be required to work, which left them questioning whether they would be forced to quit.
Microsoft Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela in a recent all-employees said transitioned 260 former store employees to corporate roles, said the company had paid former retail employees since March 2020, and created a new incentive plans for ex-store employees, according to audio of that meeting reviewed by Insider.
It’s unclear how the return to retail sales in New York will affect ex-store employees, but much of the discussion during Friday’s meeting was devoted to the process, including background checks, to give employees the blue badges Microsoft provides to full-time employees to give them access to Microsoft buildings.
Are you a Microsoft employee or do you have insight to share? Contact reporter Ashley Stewart via encrypted messaging app Signal (+1-425-344-8242) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).