Google is dipping its toes into experiential retail with the Google Visitor Experience at its Mountain View, California, campus. The space includes art, community, retail, and foodservice spaces with an emphasis on local businesses, as well as a shop where visitors can shop all things Google.
The retail-focused aspects of the Google Visitor Experience include the Pop-Up Shop, which will feature a selection of goods from local creators, and the Cafe @ Mountain View, which will offer dishes made with local, seasonal ingredients and an emphasis on sustainability and biodiversity.
Google also will incentivize shoppers to try out its products at the Google Store, which will let shoppers browse a range of merchandise, including Pixel phones, watches and tablets, Fitbit wearables, and Nest cameras. The space includes a curved wall dubbed a “cabinet of curiosities” designed to entice shoppers into interacting with the merchandise contained on its shelves, and Google experts are available to walk customers through the selection.
In addition to retail, the Google Visitor Experience will offer seasonal programming at the Plaza. For instance, it held a Community Day event on Oct. 21 with local food trucks, live music, and a maker’s market. The space also features six interactive art pieces as well as murals and other artwork from participants in Google’s Artist in Residence program.
It remains to be seen whether this is an experiment that could be carried over to physical retail stores or an exclusive feature designed to entertain guests at the Google campus. Most of the features, such as the Cafe and the Plaza, will likely be exclusive to headquarters. However, some other aspects could be used as blueprints for other retail experiences.
Two Google Stores already exist in New York City, and while they also put an emphasis on the shopping experience, the “cabinet of curiosities” appears to be a new concept. Feedback from the Google Visitor Experience could provide a foundation to be used in future expansion of the Google Store concept, giving the brand an opportunity to test new retail concepts on a property where Google already operates.
Of course, it’s also possible that Google simply wanted to open a nice visitor center. Last month, Google confirmed plans to lay off hundreds of workers who handled recruitment and hiring, just one cost-cutting measure among many in Silicon Valley, according to CNN. While the Google Visitor Experience might be laying the groundwork for a future brick-and-mortar expansion, for now it might just be a nice place to visit.