Simplicity is the key to Google’s retail strategy

If you’ve been following news concerning Google over the past couple of weeks, you might have seen the rumours the company will be launching physical stores soon.

It seems kind of weird at first, right?

Google doesn’t really make physical products. You think of it is as a search company, a business that offers things like Gmail and business apps. It’s a huge business, but it’s mostly online.

That seems to be changing, though. Google is shifting gears and wants to be seen as a company which makes products, not just provides services. And that could mean big things if it decides to open some retail stores.

Consider Google Glass. In the past couple of weeks we’ve seen some more information released about the company’s crazy wearable-computing craze. Over at The Verge there’s a pretty good wrap-up of what it’s like to wear the gadget, and it seems pretty positive so far.

(By the way, you might have missed your chance to be among those picked to test pilot Google Glass, with applications closing yesterday.)

But Google Glass isn’t just interesting because it’s a computer on sunglasses. It’s interesting because it’s one of the first efforts – apart from the Google Nexus phone – to feature Google as the branded manufacturer.

Usually the company partners up with manufacturers like Samsung and LG for its phones. It’s a successful technique so far – the Galaxy SIII is the biggest iPhone challenger yet.

But Google isn’t just stopping at phones and glasses. It recently announced a new Google Chromebook, an ultrabook running the Chrome OS. It’s a high-end laptop branded as a Google product.

Opening a store seems to make more sense now, doesn’t it?

Opening a Google store could be a failure. There are so many handsets running the Android OS it would be too hard to pick which ones to show off, and it’s pretty weird to be showing off how Gmail works in a store.

Too many products in a store is a bad thing; which is probably why Google might sprinkle a little Apple magic when deciding on the layout of its stores. Apple’s mantra is simple: less is more. It shows off fewer products for a greater impact.

This is exactly why Google is pursuing its own branded strategy, and it’s why the company has been so hesitant to put its name on products. By focusing its Google stores on only branded products, it can ensure a better retail experience. It’s a solid fit.

So what does that mean for you?

Simple. Less is more. Although Android is everywhere, Google is specific about what it puts its name on. Those are the products that will get the best placement in these stores, if they go ahead (and according to at least one report, they might not).

When you’re putting your name on something, simplicity is always best. Customers, no matter who they are, are turned off by complexity.

You can follow Patrick Stafford on Twitter @pdstafford.

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