Google plans to open its first physical store in New York this summer, mirroring a retail approach that has helped Apple rake in billions of dollars in the last two decades.
The Google store will be located in the city’s Chelsea neighbourhood, near the tech and internet company’s New York City campus, which houses over 11,000 employees.
Google, which has set up pop-up stores in the past to promote its products, said it would sell Pixel smartphones, Pixelbooks and Fitbit fitness trackers along with Nest smart home devices at the retail outlet.
Visitors will also be able to avail of customer service for their devices and pick up their online orders at the store.
The announcement signals the internet company has taken a leaf out of Apple’s play-book of operating physical stores and providing in-person services to boost sales.
Apple, which opened its first two retail stores in Virginia in 2001, has 270 stores in the US and many more around the world that drive its sales and also provide shoppers hands-on customer service.
Google has also said it is working with international online retailer Shopify to let more merchants sell across the company’s properties and beef up its e-commerce business.
Last summer, Google unveiled a major initiative to woo Amazon merchants, as part of a broader quest to be the main place people go when they want to buy something online.
The search company said it would eliminate the fees it charges retailers to let people buy directly through the Google Shopping service. For some time, Google has been attempting to make it easier and cheaper for retailers to get products in front of millions of people who use its eponymous search engine every day.
Google is the world’s dominant search engine, but only a fraction of its users look for items to buy through its shopping service in comparison to Amazon.
Google said Shopify’s 1.7 million merchants can more easily list items where Google sells, namely, its shopping site, as well as other properties such as Maps and YouTube.
“With just a few clicks, these retailers can sign up to appear across Google’s one billion shopping journeys each day,” said Google’s president of commerce Bill Ready.
Since eliminating fees last summer, Google has seen an 80% jump in merchants, a “vast majority” of whom are small businesses, Mr Ready said.
Meanwhile, Google unfurled an expansive range of consumer products and research at the kickoff of its marquee annual conference, this week, with announcements spanning quantum computing, garrulous bots, automated photo animations and dermatology screenings.
Chief executive Sundar Pichai teased a new project called Starline. Using compression technology, Google showed off a way to hold video calls with people as 3D holograms.
“It’s as close as we can get to the feeling of sitting across from someone,” Mr Pichai said.
“We have spent thousands of hours testing it in our own offices, and the results are promising,” he said.
– Reuters and Bloomberg
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