New York City residents will soon be able to walk into a physical store and request assistance with their Google products — a first for the tech giant, despite its huge global influence on the tech market. The first-ever permanent Google Store is opening at 10 a.m. tomorrow (July 17) at 76 Ninth Avenue in Chelsea, on the ground floor of one of Google’s office spaces.
Much like the now-ubiquitous Apple Store, Google’s brick-and-mortar location will offer customers the opportunity to peruse the company’s wares and test out products they’re interested in taking home. Google’s retail space will also include plenty of tech support personnel for troubleshooting the company’s lineup of products.
Google’s likely held out on curating an in-store experience for customers up until now because so little of its overall revenue comes from hardware. Apple, meanwhile, makes almost all of its profits through its hardware ecosystem, making retail stores much more important to its business model. Apple’s taken this as an opportunity to create highly curated shopping experiences.
Based on early previews of the Chelsea store, it’s apparent that Google is taking some cues from the success Apple has found in using a hybrid shopping / tech support model.
Designed to be helpful — Google’s main designing principle for creating its first full Google Store location was keeping it useful. “We wanted our first store to reflect the same approach we take when designing our products: making sure they’re always helpful to people,” the company writes in a preview blog post.
The ability to try products before buying them is helpful in and of itself — a process Apple fans might consider commonplace by now but much more difficult for Google customers. There are even break-out spaces called Sandboxes where Google has set up a bunch of its products so you can try them in tandem.
There’s even a Stadia Sandbox for trying Google’s controversial gaming system before you buy in.
And, of course, there’s the tech help desk. Much like Apple’s Genius Bar, customers will be able to make appointments ahead of time for repair services. The store’s equipped with plenty of couches and armchairs for lounging while you wait, if it’s a quick repair.
And mighty sustainable — Running a physical retail establishment could’ve been antithetical to Google’s lofty carbon-free standards; instead, the company has taken this chance to show just how sustainable a brick-and-mortar store can be. Every element of the store, from materials to building processes, was specially sourced for its sustainability. Even the custom cork-and-wood furniture was created with a local craftsman from Brooklyn.
The painstaking sourcing paid off: the Google Store has been given a Platinum rating from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system. It’s one of only 215 retail spaces in the world to have achieved this rating.
For now, at least, entry into the Google Store will be limited, to comply with local and federal COVID-19 guidelines. Until the lines die down a bit, Google’s lovely photos of the space will just need to suffice.