As we discussed previously regarding Google’s increasing ecommerce efforts, the company has gone one step further now by not only opening it’s first physical store in London, but more interestingly, it’s own Google Store.
As the company says in a blog post:
“You can shop Nexus phones and tablets, Chromecast and Chromebooks, learn more about newer technology like Android Wear, Nexus Player and Nest, and stock up on accessories like cases, keyboards and chargers,”
Undoubtedly, as we saw with the Microsoft Store, this is a case of seeing those thousands of folks at Apple Stores and thinking, we need to do this too. Now, we can’t fully attribute Apple’s rise from struggling bankruptcy threatened pc maker to the world’s most valuable company to stores. But undoubtedly, the stores – both Apple Store Online and their 450+ physical counterparts – have greatly contributed.
The human experience is something we can’t live without, despite the rise of the Internet as a way of doing commerce. Sure, we are more and more liking the convenience and pricing of Internet retail but nothing beats the theatre of a great store such as Apple. The question for those like Google following their lead; can they also be great at Retail?
This is a competency that requires mastery of the physical store environment, Apple developed this between Jobs and Ron Johnson over the best part of a decade. Other great retail experiences such as those at leaders like Costco and Whole Foods with food or Macy’s and John Lewis department stores, Zara and Forever 21 in apparel or IKEA in home furnishings have been refined over multiple decades. Interbrand released a great report summizing what it takes to join this club.
But getting the physical store right isn’t enough, Walmart have long been a leader in mass merchandising yet have until recently, struggled online, particularly against Amazon. The reason they’ve struggled? Unlike Apple and others, they haven’t been able to offer that truly integrated online-offline experience. In today’s world, the relationship between an ecommerce store and it’s physical counterpart is vital; if you don’t meet the consumer’s needs by offering a seamless experience, you will struggle to compete.
No doubt Google’s Store is a work in progress, what remains to be seen is how serious they are about Retail. What is for sure is that the role of the Store for those businesses selling to consumers is more valuable than ever.