Google has made its first foray into physical retail anywhere in the world with the launch of a pop-up shop in Central London.
Rather than a bold stand-alone store, one of the biggest brands on the Internet has opted for a low-key shop within a shop, occupying less than 300sqft of the PC World/ Curry’s superstore on Tottenham Court Road. In fact the name Google is almost entirely absent. The ‘Chrome Zone’ focuses on Chromebooks produced by Samsung and on the cloud-based Chrome operating system that they run.
Google are taking a deliberately cautious approach and plan for the current store to remain open until Christmas but, with the company’s own research showing 80 per cent of laptop sales are via physical stores, this could be the start of a larger roll out. A second pop-up Chrome Zone opened today in the Lakeside shopping centre in Essex and more will be launched around the world over the coming months.
One of Google’s principal aims was for the space to encourage customers to ‘go hands-on with a Chromebook,’ and the design is effective in achieving this. Bright primary colours create a welcoming, playful tone, which contrasts with the sleek but serious Apple area nearby. Postmodern seats in front of the laptops entice browsing customers to linger and interact, while proactive staff are on hand to provide demonstrations and relaxed advice.
Consumer Insights: Consumers get a better understanding of complex products like the Chromebook when they’re able to play with the devices. The invitation to do so must be explicit. The sales statistics indicate that this ultimately converts into purchases.
Brand take-away: Those expecting an Apple-style splash into physical retail will be disappointed, but Google’s desire to first gain insight into how consumers trial and test their products will pay dividends.