Google opens its first ever ‘offline’ shop in London

In a world first for the search giant, Google has opened a bricks-and-mortar shop today on London's Tottenham Court Road inside Curry's PC World, with two similar spaces planned for later this year in the UK.

Customers can come inside to try out and buy Android devices, Chromebooks and Chromecast dongles, as well as Google's tools and apps, while Googlers will be on hand to offer tutorials and advice around the ecosystem.

Colourful Google-themed interactive installations will allow the public to 'fly' through a giant Google Earth screen and make their own 'Google doodle' on a digital wall, while a Chromecast Pod will allow customers to play multimedia including Google Play Movies and YouTube.

> See also: Retailers struggle to meet omnichannel expectations

The shop will also hold regular classes and events around themes such as cyber security coding skills for children.

In a statement, Currys PC World senior project manager Ainsley Sykes said he was 'delighted' to partner with Google in bringing a world first retail experience to the store.

'This will be a new and innovative way for customers to engage in store, interacting with the immersive technology as well as having fun while learning,' he said. 'Google experts will be on hand to maximise the experience for users and provide help and support around the Google eco-system.'

Google's move to create a presence on the high street is an exciting one- it comes at a time when retailers are struggling to provide seamless experiences for customers across digital platforms and bricks-and-morter shops.

Gone are the days when we all thought physical shops would be completely eclipsed by the convenience of internet shopping. In 2015, the hype is around 'omnichannel' expectations for retailers, and the high street is going through a renaissance as retailers race to blend digital elements into their physical stores – like loyalty apps and 'click and collect' services.

But this is one of the first instances of an 'online first' retailer choosing to 'supplement' the digital world with a physical offering. Last month Amazon opened its first physical store, in Indiana, as part of Purdue University.

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As Google's Ella James said, 'The pace of innovation of the devices we all use is incredible, yet the way we buy them has remained the same for years. With the Google shop, we want to offer people a place where they can play, experiment and learn about all of what Google has to offer; from an incredible range of devices to a totally-connected, seamless online life.'

This kind of hands-on experience potentially opens up Google products and technology to a whole new audience- the 'non techy' coming in off the street. Only time will tell whether this kind of is just a gimmicky fad or it represents a change in the way consumers will come to expect digital services and products to integrate into the physical world. 

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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