MS Retail: UR Doin' it Wrong!

Microsoft has recently announced that they will be entering the retail space with their own stores. Clearly they feel a need to compete with Apple’s success in their retail endeavors. But, in a seeming effort to remain depressingly consistent, they’re once again stealing from the surface and ignoring the treasures below.

AppleInsider published a piece covering the story, and included a couple of photos taken in a private 20,000 square foot mock-up retail store constructed on Microsoft’s campus.

The piece includes this wonderful photo, showing a customer that we can only assume is a PC, pushing a shopping cart around the store:

We can infer immediately from this photo that the people designing this customer experience seem to think that shoppers will actually be pushing a shopping cart around the store.

Think about that.

And even more interestingly, the store designers intend to “deliver targeted, real-time information to [the] shopping cart.”

So, after Microsoft have finally decided to kill Clippy, these store designers decide it’s a great idea to create “Carty.”

Worse still, this invokes the thought of another super lame Windows feature: balloon tips.

If you’ve ever used Windows, you know exactly what these are &emdash; that tedious series of yellow, comic-like speech balloons that pop out of the task tray, proudly announcing a number of painfully irrelevant “accomplishments,” including finding a wifi signal, connecting successfully to the internet, and recognizing an attached printer or USB device.

Here’s a little screenplay I wrote to illustrate the design goals for that shopper’s experience:

Shopper enters the store, walks over to the Cart Nursery and grabs a shopping cart. The moment her hand touches the cart’s pushbar, a voice greets her:

Carty: Hi There! I’m Carty. I can help you make the most of your visit to the Microsoft Store. It’s always a pleasure to meet a PC. Where do you want to go today?

Shopper: I’d like to get an XBox.

The shopper pulls the cart out and proceeds into the store.

Carty: Is this purchase for you, or for someone else?

Shopper: It’s for my brother.

Carty scans the RFID chip in the Shopper‘s Real ID card.

Carty: Is that Alex, or John?

Shopper: Um… It’s for Alex.

Carty: OK. Please proceed to aisle 8. While we’re walking, did you know that there are now more A-grade titles for XBox than for PS3?

Shopper: Huh?

Carty: Your other brother John’s PS3 purchase in 2007 seems to have proven imprudent.

Shopper and Carty turn into aisle 8.

Carty: Here are the XBox consoles. Did you know that a new shipment of the critically-acclaimed Crushing Attack in 3D just arrived today? It’s a perfect accompaniment to this purchase. Especially considering Alex’s ROTC service, in 1994.

Shopper: Hrm… Alex does love his shoot-em-ups…

Carty: Great. I’ll be glad to help you with that. But before we go…

Carty scans the RFID chip in the Shopper‘s bank card.

Carty: I’ve noted you have an additional $6,488 in your checking account – I can have a console delivered to his house in 5 business days. Allow, deny, cancel?

Shopper: Um… Deny, Carty… Let’s get over to the games, OK?

Carty: OK. Please proceed to aisle 33.

Shopper pushes the cart to aisle 33, which is lined with XBox 360 games.

Carty: WARNING: It took longer than expected for an able-bodied person to get here. YOU MAY BE AT RISK!! Would you like to get a FREE checkup from our in-store physician?

Shopper: No, thanks. I’m fine today.

Carty: Did you know?- you can disable these notifications at the Customer Service Center, near the entrance.

Shopper: OK, maybe next time. Where’s this game?

Carty: Ahead, to the right, on the top shelf.

Shopper locates a copy of Crushing Attack in 3D, and puts the game into the cart.

Carty: Did you know: we’re offering a 15% savings on the SuperBlaster 2100 Gun Controller with the purchase of Crushing Attack in 3D.

Shopper: Not a bad idea – where’s that?

Carty: In aisle 8.

Shopper: 8? Weren’t we just…

Carty: Yes, but don’t worry, it’s in a new location.

Shopper: Really?

Carty: Relatively. You see, the aisles you haven’t been using have been collapsed and hidden away.

Shopper: OK, never mind. I think this is fine. And he already has the ShockShooter GSX anyway.

Carty: I’m afraid the ShockShooter GSX isn’t certified with this title.

Shopper: But they’re both guns; shouldn’t it just work?

Carty: This isn’t to say it definitely won’t… It’s just not officially certified, and may void your system’s warranty.

Oddly, 85% of visiting customers that make it this far into the shopping experience will actually complete their visit with a purchase.