Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has just expanded its retail channels in China by opening up a store within Tmall, China’s top B2C e-commerce site. Microsoft already has a standalone online store for China, but the company has joined many other brands in having a virtual storefront on Tmall as well – along with the likes of Pepsi and even Lamborghini.
The new e-shop is at Microsoftstore.tmall.com and sells the Surface tablets, phones, accessories, and boxed software. But the main focus seems to be on mobile. It’s not just Microsoft’s own products that are on show – the Windows Phone-powered Nokia Lumia 920 is being heavily promoted too. Confusingly, Microsoft has a pre-existing store on Tmall (here) that focuses on Windows PCs and software (yes, software again). Surely it would’ve made more sense to consolidate the two.
Daniel Zhang, president of Tmall, said during today’s launch that “Chinese consumers (…) are increasingly making purchase decisions based on experience, value, and service quality.” That apparently makes it important for major brands to go closer to where customers shop rather than relying on a standalone e-store. The new site will also enable consumers to pre-order and place deposits on products new to the market.
Up against iPhones, iPads, and a wide variety of Android devices, Microsoft has struggled to have any impact in the mobile segment. Microsoft’s newest Windows Phone 8 (WP8) platform arrived in China in December, and a few months earlier the Windows 8-powered Surface RT was met with a keen queue of buyers. But a research firm says that the Redmond company saw dismal fourth quarter 2012 Surface RT shipments of just 30,000 units.
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