Microsoft showed its intention to get serious with hardware sales in China when it opened its Online Store in the country in October last year, and now it is stepping things up after it beefed up its presence on Tmall, China’s largest consumer retail site, with a new ‘flagship’ store.
The Redmond-based company already has a presence in Tmall, but the new Microsoft Store, which the company is calling a “complementary extension”, will take it closer to its customers and place greater emphasis on Windows 8 devices and other products.
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The new Tmall store will be run by a dedicated team in China and is aiming to mix offers and promotions, with sales of the company’s local catalogue, which numbers 50 products — including those below. The site will also feature an online chat channel and ‘Up & Running’, a free service to help Surface buyers set up and use their machines.
- Microsoft Surface and accessories
- Microsoft Online Store’s unique Up & Running Service for Surface
- Microsoft Office
- Windows Phone devices from key OEM partners
- Microsoft hardware and accessories
- Microsoft Online Store’s unique Signature PCs (coming soon)
With its Web retail presence in place, the company says it is on the cusp of launching a new promotional campaign. Starting in “the coming weeks” it will spotlight new product launches, and highlight the places where consumers can go to buy them.
“Microsoft sees great potential in China’s e-commerce market, to offer customers across the country choice, value and service through our online store,” read a statement from Kevin Eagan, vice president of e-commerce for Microsoft Retail Stores.
While the company has not released figures relating to its sales in China, research firm IDC recently estimated that it shipped just 30,000 units during the final quarter of 2012.
With the products now in the market a little longer, and Microsoft now selling via its store, this increased Tmall presence and retailer Sunning, it will be hoping to see traction among China’s 1 billion plus population.
Microsoft has endured constant battles with piracy in China. Last year, it was revealed that the company had petitioned China to intervene with four major state-owned enterprises with extremely high piracy rates. Still, the company is investing strongly in China, as it plans to hire 1,000 new staff there over the next year, increasing its headcount by more than 20 percent.
A word on Tmall parent Alibaba, for those that are not familiar with it. The company has 24,000 employees, is estimated to be worth $40 billion and surpassed Amazon and eBay combined in terms of sales volume last year. Indeed, the first 11 months of 2012 saw Alibaba record $157 billion in transactions on its platforms, of which a colossal $3.1 billion came in a single day on the company’s 11/11 Shopping Festival.