Following Monday’s unveiling of Microsoft’s new Surface tablet and Wednesday’s announcement of Windows Phone 8, the Toronto Star reported that Microsoft is set to open its very first Canadian retail location at Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto.
Techvibes predicted earlier in February that Canada’s first Microsoft store might open at Toronto’s Eaton Centre, but building permit notices confirm that Yorkdale will see the first one open by the end of this year as it continues its $220 million expansion with an additional 40 new stores.
Microsoft’s decision to expand north of the border comes as a result of trying to keep up with the established and growing retail presence by their big competitor, Apple. Of course, Apple is already way ahead of them with 22 stores in Canada and another launching soon in London, Ontario, but it looks like Microsoft certainly has enough of a fan base to move in and try to take their chunk of the market. If anything, now is the time to do it.
The launch of a Toronto Microsoft store will be exciting for consumers looking to take the new Surface tablet for a test drive as soon as it becomes available, similar to how Apple allows consumers to stand around pristine white tables to test out their products. Loyal Canadian Microsoft fans learned earlier this week that the Surface tablet would only be initially available at retail outlets, with no information on how Canadians in other cities might be able to get the new tablet when it’s scheduled to come out.
But while Yorkdale shoppers will be among the first of Canadians to get the real hands-on deal with their new tablet, Microsoft will also be taking on the huge challenge of creating an in-store experience that is unique enough and sustainable to compete against Yorkdale’s established Apple retail location and the 22 others throughout Canada. The Yorkdale launch will set the course for future expansion to other Canadian locations as well.
“They will need to be able to differentiate their experience proposition quickly … or they won’t see the sales-per-square-foot traction they will need to justify expansion,” Jason Dubroy, vice president, shopper marketing, DDB Canada, told the Star.
Existing Microsoft retail locations throughout the states actually have similar design qualities in comparison to Apple stores, featuring lots of glass, shiny wooden floors and big lounge chairs. Microsoft has been able to maintain a reputation for consumer care and reliability, and their ability to define a retail experience that’s not viewed by consumers as a clone of trendy Apple stores should be a priority for the new Yorkdale opening.
An official launch date for Microsoft’s Yorkdale store has yet to be determined.
There are currently 25 Microsoft retail stores in the US, with six of them in California.