Are ‘neighborhood stores’ what Google fans have been searching for?

Discussion
Rendering: Google
May 24, 2022

Google has announced plans to open its second store in Brooklyn’s hip Williamsburg’s neighborhood with a distinctive community vibe and a promise of more to come.

“The Google Store Williamsburg will be the first of our ‘neighborhood stores,’ offering similar hands-on experiences with our products and services as our flagship store, but in a more intimate setting that celebrates the unique neighborhood we’re in,” wrote David Williams, director, retail operations at Google, in a blog entry.

Like the flagship, shoppers will be able to try Google’s Pixel 6 Pro phone, Nest Audio, Chromebook laptops, Fitbit watches and Pixel Buds as well as learn about services ranging from phone plans to gaming and storage.

“You’ll also get the chance to picture everyday life with our products through interactive displays that show how our hardware and services work together,” said Mr. Williams. “For example, you can explore Google Fi phone plans, discover which Pixel color best suits your personality or learn what goes into making our phone cases more sustainable.”

The store will also feature “Grab & Go” and online pick-up sections, as well as a “Here to Help” desk for repairs.

Unlike the Chelsea store in Manhattan, the Williamsburg location will have “local events to celebrate Brooklyn,” including guided tours to test Pixel photography features. A lounge with couches will also offer space for local events and workshops.

In addition, the store features an installation by a Brooklyn-based artist exploring the relationships between architecture, community and the environment.

The localized design differs from Apple’s more-uniform approach and the few experiential stores operated by Microsoft and Samsung. The opening comes as Amazon recently announced plans to close all 68 of its Amazon Books, 4-Star and pop-up shops and as Google appears to be readying a bigger hardware push.

Sundar Pichai, CEO at Alphabet, Google’s parent, said on Alphabet’s first-quarter analyst call, “In hardware, Pixel 6 is a huge step forward for the Pixel portfolio, and it’s been great to see the response from Pixel users. It’s the fastest-selling Pixel ever, and we are building broad consumer awareness of the brand and making good progress.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of Google’s localized approach to its planned Williamsburg location and the growth potential for its neighborhood store concept? How important are stores to Google’s hardware sales growth?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"A neighborhood store that’s sleek, but with a mom-and-pop vibe, might be just what Google needs to become part of the community."
"I believe that the only way to succeed in this is to hire impresarios who can deliver."
"When I think of this, I think of the Microsoft Stores and their success. A lot of great ideas but not a lot of interest or need to go into the store."

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10 Comments on "Are ‘neighborhood stores’ what Google fans have been searching for?"


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Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

Google needs to move faster if it wants to use physical locations to push its hardware products like the Chromebook or the Pixel phone. Driving demand via TV ads isn’t enough when customers expect “touch and feel” interaction — understanding that Google sells its products through retail accounts like Best Buy.

While localization is a proven strategy, I’m not sure the differences between Chelsea and Williamsburg will provide as much learning to Google as a more meaningful (and faster) expansion to completely different markets and formats across the country.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust
Richard Hernandez
Merchant Director
6 months 15 days ago

When I think of this, I think of the Microsoft Stores and their success. A lot of great ideas but not a lot of interest or need to go into the store. It took Apple several years of trial and error to get the right store format, and they keep adapting the format of each store to the area. I just don’t know how much time Alphabet is willing to invest to let the brick-and-mortar stores find the right mix of products and services available.

Karen S. Herman
BrainTrust

Offering the exploration and use of hardware as a hyperlocal experience is a very good idea and I really like Google’s concept here. I’m also tracking Meta and the offline-to-online stores the company is opening to let customers experience their hardware. Long live brick-and-mortar and the magic of experiential retail!

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

I had heard so much about the Google store when it opened that I was excited to see it in person. Once there I found it didn’t live up to the hype. This new version sounds intriguing.

I like that the store will offer local events and guided tours to connect to the community, the lounge to increase customer dwell time, grab and go for ease of shopping, and in-store tech help when you need it. The first Google store in NYC tried to be homey without great success. A neighborhood store that’s sleek, but with a mom-and-pop vibe, might be just what Google needs to become part of the community.

Carol Spieckerman
BrainTrust

Grounding Google’s story in brick and mortar makes sense. The company appears to have pulled out all the stops to ensure a store-of-the-community vibe for its Brooklyn brick and mortar. This shouldn’t be seen as just a vanity marketing play as a slew of immersive hardware launches are set to be unleashed by Meta, Apple, and others. Google must aggressively articulate its value and connect consumers to its products sooner than later or risk getting left in the dust.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

Having an inviting and exciting place for consumers to engage will help Google in the hardware wars. It’s important that they have a homey hands-on place – they’re coming from behind in the market and are playing catch-up, so the sooner the better.

Brad Halverson
Guest

This is an interesting play by Google as either a small test or a move to build brand awareness towards product stickiness.

The Apple Store CX and Brand work well because it is driven by beautifully designed and easy to use products, backed by a seamless software ecosystem. You go to the store to get help with interoperability, for a repair, or to speak with in-house experts.

Google has several engaging and successful products. But will that be enough to warrant a neighborhood store? My guess is not yet from an ROI standpoint. But Google could still improve its brand footing and gain valuable customer input.

Liz Crawford
BrainTrust

It’s all about execution. Amazon doesn’t have much experience in the physical retail space, which is a different core competency. The store claims to have a lounge, to celebrate all things Brooklyn. That’s a stage. That means content … yet another core competency. I believe that the only way to succeed in this is to hire impresarios who can deliver.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

It remains to be seen how important Google stores are to furthering the Google brand and the Google image. How does this compare to more aggressive marketing, and store within a store concepts with key retailers? What about specialty training for key retail employees, without having to employ, train, and manage an entire store sales/technical marketing team in a stand alone location? It seems that partnering with key retailers would be a better option for Google to extend its reach instead of stand-alone neighborhood stores.

Anil Patel
BrainTrust

The KPI for Google’s stores should not be measured in terms of sales per square foot. These stores are vital to their expansion plans into mobiles and other electronics category because they will be acting as a media and experience centres and not a point of sale.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"A neighborhood store that’s sleek, but with a mom-and-pop vibe, might be just what Google needs to become part of the community."
"I believe that the only way to succeed in this is to hire impresarios who can deliver."
"When I think of this, I think of the Microsoft Stores and their success. A lot of great ideas but not a lot of interest or need to go into the store."

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