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Is the Time Right for Social Software and Social Media Companies to Open Physical Social Shops?

by Vassil Mladjov  |  July 24, 2013  |  4 Comments



We have all seen the rapid growth over the last few months of mini in-stores by vendors like Samsung, Apple, Google, and now Microsoft inside Best-Buy.  Why are vendors opening these mini in-stores, don’t they have enough shelf space? The problem is that the space for personal electronics and computers is very saturated, and companies need to create a new way to differentiate themselves from the pack where mega pixels and sizes are now all the same. Everyone is trying to copy the Apple store experience and even phone company stores are now almost identical to the modern and open experience in Apple stores. Apple is trying to stay ahead and be innovative while creating bigger glass stores with more floors and open space to consult, educate, and help its customers with the questions they may have about any of their products and services.

So, if companies like Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, and even Google are setting up these in-store experiences, why can’t social software vendors do the same, and should they? I think that the time is right, now more than ever, where social software companies in general can experiment with a physical mini-store or kiosk in order to reach new customers. Location will be the key, and vendors who can strike the right partnerships with companies like Apple and Microsoft would benefit the most. Maybe the right space for mini social in-stores will be within airports, but this is just a guess.

Having a physical social shop where customers can walk in and ask social media guru’s questions, get demos on the fly, test how the mobile apps work while grabbing espresso in a colorful dynamic place would be too cool to pass. The shops could have big comfy chairs where people are tweeting while waiting in line and checking the big screen demos running on the walls.

There is a reason why the big electronics and software companies are opening their own big and small stores, the question is if this model can work for software vendors as well.
So, let’s see who will create the first social software shop. What do you think?


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Tags: social  social-shops  social-software  

Vassil Mladjov
Research Director
1 years at Gartner
28 years IT Industry

Vassil Mladjov (@vassko) is a Research Director in Gartner Research, focusing on startups, incubators and VC. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, he covers how startups and VC investments are changing the IT landscape while capturing early new technology trends. He is working on a new startup curve methodology while examining the forces that are changing its shape during the startup evolution. He follows VC investment trends and application market forecasts for better understanding of technology growth. He helps startups with their go-to-market strategy, partnerships and growth. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Is the Time Right for Social Software and Social Media Companies to Open Physical Social Shops?

  1. Hank Barnes says:


    I think this is a cool idea and one worth pursuing, particularly as a part of bigger experience stores. They could also invite strong bloggers to share their stories live—a real social experience.

    It could be a boon not just for the social software companies, but even more so for the device vendors whose stores they are in, as it shows even more ways to leverage the device.


    • Vassil Mladjov says:

      Thanks Hank,

      I agree with you that this can be bigger in bigger stores and not just around social media, but I think there is a whole social thing about making social software true social with social shops 😉


  2. Dave Clark says:

    Vassil, in so many towns and cities in the UK there is a real crisis in terms of empty shops and retail ghost towns. So whilst I can see where you’re thinking is going I find myself thinking are social “shops” not just variants on coffee shops, restraunts, book shops (like waterstone’s with the guest authors…and coffee upstairs).

    I look at my children (18,21,24) and there behaviour (generalising) is that FB is now boring, they tend to meet and socialise with friends using food and drink as the bond, they shop online (except daughter who wanders arround large department stores for hours on end, and defintely are deal driven, and most intriguing they all say they find Apple – irritating, smug and passe as a brand….as one of them observed less cool and increasingly crap!

    Also if I were thinking of investing in this model I’m not sure the ROI would be very attractive – unless its via some sort of affiliate model along the waterstones and costa approach?

    Enjoying the blog 🙂

    • Vassil Mladjov says:

      I agree. The idea come in a way from the same empty stores I have been seeing downtown San Francisco forever. I do like the idea a lot about the coffee shops too, in fact when I ran Sharetronix I tried to partner with a local cafe chain called Specialty’s, but they did not get it. In the end of the day, social vendors will need to become physical, just like Kinect and Wii changed the way games are played. What ROI 😉

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