With Microsoft’s first mega-store in Australia, the company is targeting a niche market in Australia that’s been growing fast, and that could drive the company’s fortunes in the country for years to come.
With the latest $10 million grant from the Government to help build and run the giant food store, the Microsoft store is already making inroads in a country where the Australian dollar has fallen against the US dollar since its peak in early 2019.
Microsoft’s big-box store in the CBD will be bigger than any other store in Australia and its focus will be on the biggest and most expensive items in store, such as food, toys and other items that are sold on the website and in shops.
The store will have over 700 different brands and brands of food, but the most popular items will be “super-premium” brands like Red Bull and PepsiCo.
It will also have over 100 of the country’s most popular “fancy food” items, such for example ice cream and coffee, along with “superfoods” like steak, steak tartare, and sushi.
“Microsoft will be focused on what we call ‘superfood’ items,” says chief executive Yusuf Mehdi.
“It will be a huge opportunity for us.”
The food-focused store will be located in a corner of the former Melbourne Cricket Ground in the heart of the CBD, just a few hundred metres from the main shopping and entertainment precinct of CBD North.
The new Microsoft store will not only cater to a specific segment of Australian consumers, but it will also be a showcase for Microsoft’s new “digital” platform, where people can connect with its digital store in an effort to “shop and buy”.
The company has also invested heavily in the area to bring its software and hardware capabilities to the CBD.
It’s not the first time Microsoft has built a big-format store in a city centre.
The Redmond, Washington, company first opened a big store in its headquarters in the city in 2013, but this time around the store will house “big-format” technology such as HoloLens and Xbox, which will be able to create augmented-reality experiences and interact with the real world through the virtual space.
The company is also building a big warehouse in Melbourne, but for now, it will focus on the CBD as a retail hub for its cloud services.
The project is also being driven by Microsoft’s strategy of bringing a more local touch to its new stores.
“We believe this new store is going to bring people together and give them an opportunity to shop locally and to connect to other local communities,” says Mehdi, who also serves as the chief executive officer of the Microsoft Store Group.
“As we have said, Microsoft’s presence is a huge part of what’s driving our business.”
Microsoft has also been working with a number of other retailers to build up its presence in the Australian market.
The Microsoft Store Australia website states that it will “help us grow our business across Australia by enabling us to build a stronger brand and better experience for our customers”.
Mehdi says that the stores will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and “will cater for both Australians and visitors”.
“We want to make sure we can be a leader in the local retail community and we want to be the best local retail store in our region,” he says.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been watching Microsoft’s plan closely.
It is the regulator in Australia who will be monitoring the Microsoft stores, and its comments to the government have been a key factor in Microsoft’s decision to build the store in Melbourne.
“The ACCC has an interest in whether Microsoft has met its legal obligations and the company has said it will provide a more detailed account of what it plans to do with the new store,” the ACCC said in a statement.
“In response to that, the government has committed to ensure that the new Microsoft stores in Melbourne and the ACT remain open during peak times, and the ACCC will be taking further action against the company.”
Microsoft Australia has also taken the unusual step of taking the ACCCs advice into account in its planning.
“For example, Microsoft has said that it has been working closely with the ACCCC to identify what it is willing to do and not do to comply with the law in its existing store in Sydney,” the ACCCA said in an email.
“If the ACCCE is satisfied that the ACCs legal advice is not sufficient to determine whether Microsoft’s proposed store in Perth and its proposed store outside Sydney meet the legal requirements of the Australian Consumer Law, the ACC will consider whether it is appropriate for the ACC to take further action.”
The Australian Federal Police is also watching Microsoft closely.
“This is a very serious matter and will require the attention of the Federal Police and their Australian counterparts,” a spokesman said.
“There is also a possibility that the AFP could consider an