Retail Exposure Report: Windows Phone - Westfield London

A few days ago, we visited London’s newest shopping mecca, Westfield to get a quick take on how much coverage Windows Phone is getting in the retail space. Much has been made about Windows Phone not having good retail exposure. We wanted to see if this was true and get a feel for how things look for Windows Phone in the UK's largest shopping centre.

Almost as soon as we entered the main concourse, we were surprised to find a full-blown ZTE promotional stand. Currently ZTE produce one Windows Phone, the Tango spec Tania, a device that’s somewhat hampered by having only 4GB memory it does make up for it with a generous 4.3" screen size. The stand was there primarily to promote a new Android phone but the Tania was along for the ride and being displayed right up alongside it.

ZTE Stand, complete with white plastic chairs

We engaged with the demonstrator, who, whilst keen to show us the device first showed us an Android device (it had been a long day he informed us). After he found the Windows Phone he went on to explain that the phone had a memory card slot to upgrade the standard 4GB. We did help him search for the mythical slot but alas, did not find it. Still it is good to see a Windows Phone taking pride of place next to their flagship Android phone.

Whilst a nice device - we didn't find a memory card slot...

The shopping centre itself is a veritable smorgasbord of mobile phone shops, all the major network operators and retailers are represented; Three, Vodafone, O2, Phones 4u (x2) as well as Carphone Warehouse and Everything Everywhere. Phones 4u were previously pushing the Lumia phones quite hard but have since switched their focus to pushing the Android flavoured Galaxy SIII and other Samsung Phones. The Lumia devices we found were at the back of the store, displayed well enough but no longer front and centre.

All of the mobile shops we visited in Westfield had Lumia Phones available in store. The Windows Phones are generally occupying eye level positions, mid-level positioning, top level displays being reserved for the Galaxy SIII’s and HTC One X phones. They are after all, newer and of a higher spec. Where shops use a tiered display, it is often to help shoppers and staff visually differentiate between costs of devices, deals and how recent a phone is. That Windows Phones are positioned in this mid-tier is positive, the devices are mid-spec compared to many Android phones and they have been on the market for some time.

We had previously reported on the Nokia Arch in Westfield, we’re pleased to see its back after a little break. Nokia have the arch positioned on the main concourse amongst most of the mobile shops, a prime location that makes it hard to miss. They have the full range of Lumia devices on show including the Play 360 Speakers and Purity headphones. You don’t have to browse the devices for very long before one of the demonstrators comes over to ask if you need any help. I have personally been to the arch a few times and it’s always the same, the staff are always prompt, friendly and helpful.

The Arch - As seen from above

After talking with the guys on the stand (who are fans of wpcentral!), it would seem that things are going well. Customers are happy to have the Nokia crew here to help, they provide demos and detailed information to customers before a purchase. The customers who have just bought a phone will often go back to the Nokia stand and get some further help with initial setup of the phone. It sounds as though staff from local stores often refer customers to the stand for detailed demonstrations. Whilst the Nokia Arch was absent, we talked with sales staff in the area. They reported that sales and queries of Windows Phone devices dropped significantly when Nokia left, the return of the Arch is perhaps a sign that Nokia are keen to ensure those sales do not dip again in such a key retail location.

At least in this centre, Windows Phone is certainly getting its share of good coverage. The Nokia arch is a great way for the Finnish company to re-engage with the public and demo their Windows Phones. It’s certainly doing its bit to raise awareness of the phones and give the public a chance to check them out with interactive hands-on demos. It also seems that the presence of the Nokia people is also helping to move more phones in the surrounding stores and provide a little bit of pre and post sales care for customers.

The question is does any of this promotion make much difference overall? Is raising Windows Phone’s awareness bringing more people to the platform? Is it winning hearts and minds? Nokia sales have been impressive, 4m devices in Q2 isn’t bad. Here in the UK they have cited more intense competition, that’s true but it goes way deeper than that. The UK public are positively mesmerised by Android and iOS right now, they are heavily favoured in shops and staff actively push them. The Apple Stores provide a strong pull for consumers, they provide an amazing retail ‘experience’ for buyers both before and after they have bought into the platform.  The combination effect is that Windows Phone doesn’t get much of a look in.

Before the Nokia partnership, Windows Phones were both poorly advertised and poorly distributed. That has since changed. Devices can be found almost everywhere and are at least being given the chance to go head to head with other platforms. The road is far from clear, advertising does remain patchy and sales staff and the public still have deep reservations about ‘Windows’ on their phone and perhaps the name remains the single biggest hurdle to mass adoption?

So what more can be done? More advertising? A rebirth of Nokia flagship stores? Microsoft pop up shops to promote their products? How do you rate the current exposure of Windows Phone at retail? What more can Microsoft and its partners do to turn things around? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments bellow, please engage, the right people might hear your ideas..

  • Nice story
  • Start by allowing us to change regions!!!!
  • Seconded!
  • Is the word whilst even a recognized word anymore? I'm not a grammar Nazi, just felt weird reading it. Just while would be just fine.
  • Are you American by any chance?
  • Thought the exact same thing, whilst still seems normal to me....
  •   Thanks for your feedback - I will take that into consideration for the next time. Variety is the spice of life though, is it not? Thanks for reading. RB
  • I'm American and don't find anything wrong about that word. So keep using it whenever you feel like.
  • Tiered, not tired I think :P
  • Good spot, thanks, corrected!
  • What a well written article :) This site is great and it shows amateur journalism is just as relevant and probably more so as professional journalism. But it really lets you down when "you" (the site in general) don't even spell-check. This article, however, is outstanding. Keep it up! The use of whilst is really not on my radar ;) "Broken reading" experiences are much more obvious with outright errors. Personally, I am probably the bane of the Isle of Man's two telco providers' lives. Sure (Cable and Wireless) are just crap in terms of showcasing and knowledge of Windows Phone 7 and Manx Telecom are improving, having had good store placement of the Lumia 800. And things are improving following my tweeting to them, re: in-store knowledge. (One MT rep was astounded you could edit Word documents on WP7). I just wish the arch would come here and kick some sales rep ass!
  • Thanks for your kind words, lets hope Nokia decide to the Arch over to the Isle of Man pronto! RB
  • Big name apps I guess there should be no reason that they should get people's preferred apps at wp8 considering that all of wp7.x apps will be forward compatible.....also they needed to bring all the nokias to the us. It seems to me as though everywhere else is launching 800's 900's 610's and 710's. They could have made a killing selling a white black and magenta 800 at tmobile while atnt pushed black blue and white. Each have similar specs and similar design and that way people would not feel overlooked on build quality....not saying the 710 is low quality but the 800 would have sold much better over here.
  • In the USA you will see good promotion at AT&T and T-Mobile stores. You will see nothing at Sprint and Verizon stores. Only WP8 can change that now it seems to me.
  • I really hope Verizon does something forget androids let them become like BlackBerry. They were waiting for LTE, (not sure why) But now that wp8 will have that. The time is now.
  • They NEED to hear that this isn't Nan's old Windows on the phone, the name really IS the biggest issue because people aren't smart enough to see the difference! =(
  • Agree majority of buyers aren't so smart. Everyone knows iPhones. Maybe when win8/wp8 and surface come out then they will begin to learn. A good commercial with all three is a great selling point. Personally I'd only like a surface and a wp8. I enjoy the metro UI, but not for my desktop.
  • This may sound a bit absurd, but I think that Nokia has enough clout overseas that MS through their partnership with Nokia should work with Nokia to design a Nokia store that highlights the Lumia line of WP phones, surface like Nokia tablets along with all of the accessories because Nokia seems to be the only partner that makes accessories to go with their phones that aren't third party. Also research has shown the many recognize WP via Nokia as oppose to windows phone. By any means necessary we should penetrate the market; if it means letting people believe WP was made by Nokia then so be it! The lumia line by far has out sold any other
  • Don't know if saying that the public here in the UK is still really mesmerised by Android yet, and certainly not by the high end ones. WP main competition here is definitely the large Blackberry crowd who haven't yet abandoned it for iOS or mid range Android devices. Also the Nokia advertising campaign doesn't really stretch into to TV area, where by comparison Apple have large numbers of primetime slots while I haven't seen a WP one for a long time (a few months even). An awesome article all the same Robert, I'm really loving your posts on the site!
  • OT: couldn't mention it where I wanted to so ill say it here.
    This was taken from and article on the imore site "While neither the 7 inch BlackBerry PlayBook, nor the 7 inch Amazon Kindle Fire, nor the 7 inch Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet took the world by storm, they weren't iPads. They didn't focus on a simple, consumer-friendly interfaces, tablet-specific apps, and content that was accessible beyond U.S. borders. They blew it. But they won't always continue to blow it."
    I'm thinking the surface will hit that market. I know it's not 7in but it will be on par with an iPad, even bigger. I'd want a surface over an iPad because of size, and apps (they can be used on win8 and the surface) can't say that for iPads. So many reasons to choose surface over iPad, only hardcore apple fans will stick with iPads. Those are my thoughts. Comment would go through on the mobility article.
  • The iPad is around 10 inches, not 7.
  • It's 9.something and surface is 10.6.
  • Microsoft just needs to do what they did with the Xbox for a while- operate at a loss. Over time they gain market share and eventually turn a profit. Its almost a necessity in today's day and age. They've got a great product and everybody admits it. Now they just need to get out there and sell it.
  • Which of the two Westfield's was this?
  • Stratford
  • Msg to HTC, Samsung ZTE: there is little reason any other phone apart from a Nokia now.
  •     Personally, I would much rather that there was strong and healthy competition in the handset space. HTC & Samsung are nowhere to be seen with Windows Phone right now. HTC chose to put all efforts into huge advertising for their Android phones, Samsung seem to have lost interest.
  • There's a Nokia store in my city.
  •   Nice, where do you live? There used to be a Nokia flagship store on Regents Street, here in London, that closed down a while back now. RB
  • Lisbon. Nokia is incredibly popular here.
  • Oh, so are the Lumia devices selling well there?
  • I have said this before and I will say it again..i know for a fact that customization, and lack of popular apps is one of the biggest reasons people dont get windows phones..i tried to "convert";) a few of my family members but they told me plain and simple that it just looks like a bunch of ugly squares and there is no way to change the background besides black & white...they also disliked the fact that all the apps that they had on their android wasnt in windows marketplace..i love my windows phone but i hate the lack of customization as well...people just want to have more options