Ahead of the opening this summer, we got a sneak peek yesterday at the first Google Store in New York City. The company has said that the retail location is an “important next step” for its hardware division. For prospective visitors, what are you most looking forward to doing at a Google Store?
There are a lot of unknowns about Google’s first permanent foray into retail. For one, we don’t know whether the company’s hardware division sees physical spaces as just “experience stores” or whether they are planning a chain. The former could see Google only ever open a handful of locations in key cities, while the latter would be a large commitment to retail and directly selling to customers.
We look forward to meeting many of our customers and hearing their feedback on the store, so we can continue to explore and experiment with the possibilities of a physical retail space and build upon the experience.
Google at launch did seem to imply that it will be more akin to the Apple Store model. After all, the importance of one store is questionable if there are no further plans to learn and scale from it.
This brings us to today’s question: Assuming a location is conveniently in your neighborhood, what do you want from a Google Store?
Learn about & demo products
From big-box retailers to carrier stores, finding Pixel and Nest products is not too difficult in this day and age. However, using a traditional phone demo experience is severely lacking from thick security mechanisms that don’t let you really feel the phone in your hand or take pictures. Similarly, smart home products, like security cameras, are very rarely active. The Google Store could have experiences to highlight the Pixel’s camera — like fun objects/setups to take pictures of — and Assistant.
Meanwhile, the real upside is for products like Chromecast with Google TV and Stadia. It would be the first retail outing for the latter product and its Controller, while the pre-pandemic experience for Chromecast has historically been a looped video.
Buy hardware & accessories / in-store pickup
Again, buying Google products from conventional retailers is easy today, but going direct has updates in terms of exchanges. Meanwhile, accessories for Pixel phones are sometimes hard to find in person, but the Google Store would presumably be fully stocked. It also leads to the next point.
Troubleshooting & set-up
Upon pickup, there will presumably be some setup and transfer help that could occur under the eye of an employee. Retail locations also give Google a tremendous opportunity to tackle the belief that getting help for their products is difficult. If they are ubiquitous enough, people might be more likely to talk to a person in real life rather than navigate chats and forums.
When hardware issues occur, a large network of Google Stores would give you a default place to get it fixed. It would match Apple’s network and an option for people that previously had bad experiences mailing products out for repair. Hopefully, some repairs, like cracked screens, could even be same-day given the current volume of Google products.
Hosting photography classes for the Pixel is a no-brainer. Roving sessions, like the Apple Store’s photo walks, in select cities could very much emphasize the community aspects of the Google Store. Other lessons could instruct new users on Chromebooks and setting up a smart home.
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