If you’re Home Depot or Best Buy, I can understand running out of stock on items. It happens. Businesses can only carry so much debt when ordering products from suppliers. It’s understandable that Best Buy might only have 50 iPad 2’s in stock at a given store. Home Depot could run out of 3/4 in. HD Maple Plywood, as they only order it once every 6 months and don’t sell much of it.
Let’s look at the Apple Store. Sure, Apple only makes and sells about 50 products, which includes everything from desktop computers, laptops, phones, viewing devices, software, mice, keyboards and other little accessories. Most of those items sell like hotcakes. Apple junkies know they can go to any Apple Store and get the product they want – Apple makes the products. Sure, they run out of stock too, but you can be sure they won’t be out of stock long. Apple wants to SELL PRODUCT. Before they had stores, they relied on retailers – until they realized they could make even more money by selling it themselves (and helping people upgrade.)
Now, let’s look at Microsoft. Specifically, Microsoft’s attempt at competing with Apple on the retail front – the “Microsoft Store”. Microsoft has been far more successful for much longer than Apple. Microsoft has released thousands of products since 1975. They came late to the retail game though and it looks like they still can’t compete. The first Microsoft Store opened in 2009 to sell THEIR products. Yes, they sell OEM hardware that runs Microsoft software, but they have plenty of other items that they make on their own; computers, tablets, phones, gaming systems, mice and keyboards, webcams, headsets and of course, software.
Considering the items that Microsoft sells, there are few that are really expensive to manufacture. Most of their branded items are peripherals; plastic (and thin metal) with small circuit boards that are likely made overseas in mass quantities. So why then, can’t Microsoft keep their own items in stock… at THEIR stores?
I’ve been looking for a new mouse. I have LOVED Microsoft’s mice through the years, but I’m down to my last one and it’s starting to fail. I’ve been studying the new models that Microsoft makes. There are a lot! So after reading reviews, watching videos and asking some questions online, it has come down to three. As it turns out, they are the three that are the most expensive. The “Touch”, the “Explorer Touch” and the “Arc Touch” – I’ve also thought about the “Wedge Touch”. Ranging from $50 to $80!
A mouse is a significant piece of equipment to a computer geek like me. I use it a lot. I count on it for ease of use, control and the features it brings that allow me to work faster. I tend to be more of a keyboard guy, but I love my five-button Laser Mouse 6000. I use all the buttons. No, I’m not a gamer. I have buttons mapped for different shortcuts and I use them very efficiently. I understand that I’m odd – most people probably don’t give mice much of a second thought. I do.
Well, I’m not going to order an $80 mouse online just to find out I don’t like it. I want to go to the Microsoft Store and use it first. Make sure it fits my hand and feels good. I guess people buy shoes online, but I don’t want to have $80 to $150 in mice being returned each time I’m ‘trying’ out a mouse. I’m lazy, just like most people, and I’m likely to just leave the mouse in the closet and never return it. So, I’ve picked several mice made by Microsoft. Best Buy doesn’t have them in stock in the stores. Fry’s doesn’t either. Neither does Radio Shack, Sony Style Target, Walmart or OfficeMax. As it turns out, the Microsoft Store doesn’t have them either! That doesn’t mean the story near ME doesn’t have them… that means they haven’t had them in stock for MONTHS at ANY store in all of Southern California! What?!?!
Keep in mind, these are not old models. These are CURRENT products. Go to Microsoft Store’s “Mice” section of their website… *3* of the four mice I wanted to see in person at the store are at the top of the “Mice” section. These are the products Microsoft “wants” to sell? But they haven’t had them in stock at their retail stores for a long time.
What can be learned from this? Does Microsoft care about their customers? Do they understand how a retail location works? Do they not have the products because they’re going to abandon them like other products, but haven’t told customers yet? (Zune… Kin… Surface?) Are they really trying to stay in business?