google store

AH Primetime: Are Google Retail Stores Really Needed?

March 21, 2014 - Written By Cory McNutt

Are Google stores really needed? Google is, after all, first and foremost an ‘advertising’ company and not really in the hardware business – 97-percent of their over $33 billion income last year was from advertising. But this question has been thrown around a lot lately, especially with the recent rumor that Google will open their first store in Downtown Manhattan – right down the street from the Apple store – and why not in their ‘hometown’ of San Francisco…although the question was probably already answered in this sentence…Apple. Brick and mortar stores are great to go in and look around, but the question that still begs an answer is does Google really need its own store to promote Google products like the Chromebook Pixel, Chromecast, and any Nexus related products like Nexus smartphones and tablets, as well as accessories and the soon-to-be released Glass.

You can already find a dedicated Google section in many of the Best Buy retail brick and mortar stores with a dedicated staff trained to answer your questions about Google products, services, and accessories. With more and more buyers doing their shopping online over the internet, many brick and mortar stores are closing their stores to either consolidate and shut down completely. Some say that Google can afford the overhead and while that may be true, Google and their investors need to see a profit – would the loss on a physical store be outweighed by the extra sales it would generate had the store not been available to the customer in the first place? That may be a very hard case to prove or disprove.

A potential customer can easily find a Nexus tablet or Nexus smartphone to touch and demo, but many buy them sight unseen – and let’s remember that Google does not make the actual device. Even the Chromebook Pixel could be seen at a Best Buy store and then we have Google’s Chromecast device, which certainly does not need to be seen in ‘person,’ it is just a small plastic dongle that plugs into your HDTV…nothing to see there.

There are really only TWO possible reasons Google wants to have a brick and mortar store – one could be the ‘me too’ factor. Apple and Microsoft have their own stores and maybe Google wants some bragging rights as well. It maybe that they will only have stores in a few major cities across the country – NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, etc. But I would hope that Google is more mature than a ‘my store is bigger than your store’ attitude. Certainly their own trained employees and merchandising placement would be better than renting a space inside another storefront and if the rumors are about the Manhattan store are true, maybe Google knows something we do not.

The ONLY factor that I find a very valid point and a real advantage to having their own store can be summed up in one word – GLASS. This a product the really needs to be tried on and possibly adjusted to fit properly and Google could also have tie-in with an optometrist for those of us that wear glasses and need Glass ‘built-into’ our prescription glasses – like a “Visionworks” for instance. I suppose the deciding factor would be about how the final design looks and how Glass are actually attached to your prescription glasses. It might make better sense for Google to actually sell their Glass through outlet chains that already exist with Google Glass training as well.

I love to see these specialty stores – they are really the only reason to get away from online shopping and actually go out to a store. If you love a product, then you enjoying being in a store to play with it and see exactly what you are buying. That is wonderful for the consumer, but does it really make sense for Google, a company that makes almost all of its money from advertising, although I guess one could say that a brick and mortar store is a form of advertising…but at what cost? The bottom line would have to be – is this a good investment…and remember an investment gives you a return on the outlay of cash needed to get it started – would a store do that for Google?

Please let us know on our Google+ Page if you really think that it is necessary for Google to have a brick and mortar store to visit? Do you believe that it would be a wise business move? What about Glass – should they be sold in regular eyeglass stores offering a full-line of services or in their own specialty shop? We would love to hear your opinions.

Google Store