Looking to get “closer to its customers,” software giant Microsoft is wrapping many months of preparation to enter Puerto Rico’s retail market with the opening of its first store today on the first level of the Plaza Las Américas mall in Hato Rey.
The 8,700 square-foot location — of which 4,000 square-feet are dedicated to retail space — serves as a showroom for Microsoft’s latest smartphones, gaming devices, tablets, computers, software and accessories, as well as space to play, learn or simply hang out, store manager Gustavo González told News is my Business Wednesday, during a pre-opening tour of the company’s first store outside the continental United States.
“Puerto Rico has always been an important market for Microsoft and for this opening, it was essential for us to have the support of the local sales office, which has become a great partner for us,” González said. “This was a market Microsoft was not familiar with, in terms of retail, so we’re adapting ourselves and making sure everything is done in compliance with what Puerto Rico requires.”
The opening represents the creation of 50 new jobs.
The new Microsoft Store features an “open floor plan” that is divided into specific areas, where clients can touch and feel the products, including the “Surface,” the company’s newest tablet, and computers featuring its new Windows 8 software. There is also an “Answers desk,” where customers can talk to store employees who are trained to help them solve equipment issues, González said.
“Our staff has the responsibility of making sure our customers have the most pleasant and easiest technology shopping experience as possible,” he said. “Whether helping a small business to outfit their office, an enthusiast who wants to discuss speeds and contents, or a mother preparing her family to return to school, our associates will provide customized services so customers can find the technology that best fit their lives.”
Microsoft expects that part of that “give-and-take” will ultimately result in better product development and services for local clients, he said.
“We’re going to learn from our clients to make better products. That’s the concept behind this store. Our channel partners will also benefit from what we’ll be doing here because all of the feedback we get from our clients will be used to improve the Microsoft experience, regardless of where they’re buying the product,” González noted.
As part of its arrival to the island, the Microsoft Store will be showing its support to the local community by making three separate donations of $350,000 each in technology and cash to the Banco Popular Foundation, the Caguas Science & Technology Center and the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Fund. The goal is to help create opportunities for local youth through technology, training and hands-on experiences that help them expand their potential, company officials said.
The inauguration will be capped off with an exclusive concert by Enrique Iglesias at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum tonight, for which Microsoft will be giving away tickets to the first 2,000 people arriving at the store.