Google Shop converts the intangible into a real experience
Uttara Masting
June 10, 2015
Google’s first foray into retail under its own brand name.

Another big tech brand has entered the retail space—and it’s making an impact 

“Would you like to try the digital graffiti spray paint?” I certainly don’t need to be asked twice—there couldn’t be a better invite into the Google Shop. Located within Curry’s PC World on London’s bustling tech street, Tottenham Court Road, this is a shop within a shop and Google’s first foray into retail under its own brand name.

Ranked #2 on Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2014 rankings, Google is staying focused on seamlessly integrating its products and services—and it is now moving towards delivering the ultimate experience to consumers on the ground in its own inimitable style.

The window display entices you from the street. A Heath Robinson-style piece of art, complete with turning cogs in Google’s familiar color scheme, grabs the attention of pedestrians. An unusual display for a tech store window, it piques one’s curiosity immediately. Cleverly located at the front of Curry’s store, Google succeeds in drawing in passersby.

Experience is hero and takes center stage

Google Shop is a striking space, completely dominated by two floor-to-ceiling/ high-resolution screens. On the left, there is a digital wall that allows the user to doodle and play with the Google logo. On the right, a huge surround screen called The Portal, which enables users to “fly” around the world through Google Maps, just as though they were on a magic carpet ride. Suddenly, I’m in Mumbai, 4,000 miles away, displayed in stunning high resolution. Wide-eyed, I’m staring at a very specific location: my mother’s sunny balcony. It’s so lifelike, I almost expect to see someone come out and hang laundry out to dry!

The entire space is dedicated to this fabulous experience, with Google products—like phones, laptops and Chromecasts—displayed on the shop’s outer fringes, forming a kind of halo around this theatrical display.

Liberate your inner child and have some FUN   

While Google may have morphed into a tech behemoth, its brand hasn’t lost its sense of spontaneity and pure fun. For years, Google doodled with its own logo—and now it is asking consumers to have a go. This is a great example of a brand living its core values and inviting consumers to interact and participate.

The staff is energetic, actively engaging consumers with Google’s technology. Much like staff at Apple Stores, they display a true sense of pride in (and enthusiasm for) the brand’s products and technology.

So why would a successful online brand move into bricks and mortar? For one thing, it offers consumers the chance to experiment and play with Google products first hand, but it also makes the brand more tangible. Even in a highly digitized world, the classic retail principle of “try before you buy” and the actual touch and feel of products still holds sway with consumers.

The challenge for online brands entering the retail world is interpreting how the online experience translates onto the shop floor. In the case of Google, the retail environment it has created has beautifully captured the attributes most associated with the brand: encouraging discovery and experimentation—all while having a bit of fun.

Check out Google’s official press release for more information and additional images from the event. 

Uttara Masting
Associate Director, London
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