“It’s nice to come into the store and get your hands on it”
The minimalist decor apes the stark white counters and tables of one of the best-known single-branded stores around. But instead of Macs and iPads, there are drones. Unboxed and on display. Touching allowed — even for the $4,599 DJI Matrice 600.
“I’m more hands on, so it’s nice to come into the store and gets your hands on it and kind of see what’s actually going on and try different things,” said Jorge Herrera, who drove from Westminster to check out Thursday’s grand opening of Colorado’s first DJI store, where drones cost several hundred to several thousand dollars.
But this isn’t just a store that sells drones. It’s an official DJI store, a brand that dominates the unmanned aircraft hobby and higher-end consumer space. The Shenzhen, China-based company, the market leader for consumer drones, chose the Park Meadows mall neighborhood in Lone Tree as one of 10 it is opening in the U.S., and the first authorized store in Colorado. It’s hoping to mimic the success of Apple stores instead of the fumbles of other brands — remember Niketown, Sony Style and Virgin Megastore?
“We’re trying to get our product into as many hands as possible, and this is a great way to do it,” said Adam Lisberg, DJI’s North American spokesman. “We love that our products are available at Best Buy and the Apple store because those are national and international chains that can reach a lot of people. At the same time, there is value for us to set up and show what our drones and cameras can do in an environment that is strictly focused on DJI.”
The new store is operated by the owners of Multicopter Warehouse in Castle Rock. But it’s not a franchise. It’s an authorized DJI store. Only four DJI stores are owned and operated by the Chinese company, and those are all in Asia.
Kerry Garrison, chief operating officer of Multicopter, said Multicopter has sold a variety of drones for three years. But after many brands proved less reliable, the store found itself selling mostly DJI products.
“It made sense that when they asked us to do a branded store, we felt the time was right to play off their brand in the marketplace,” Garrison said.
Controlling the entire brand experience is a business strategy. But companies go about it in different ways.
“Apple made no bones about the fact that their store was at least half there to serve owners — thus the genius bar and a lot of nonselling space devoted to education, training, and support,” said Nikki Baird, managing partner for RSR Research, which tracks retail trends.
Others like NikeTown tried different things, such as installing a basketball court and running track so customers could see how shoes felt in action before purchasing a pair.
“But for companies like Sony, who try to create a buyer experience for something that is not really designed for a short tryout, it’s much more challenging. It’s difficult to appreciate a surround-sound system in a five-minute demo. You want to sit down and watch a movie, and get a feel for how you’d implement that in your own home,” Baird
said. “And a lot of those experiences that get futuristic get gimmicky (and old) too fast — faster than the brand is willing to update and maintain them.”
Sony phased out its Sony Style stores last year but still has a flagship store in New York. Meanwhile, Niketown, which closed its Denver location in 2011, revived the immersive concept last month and opened a new Niketown flagship store in New York City.
As a niche market, drones are still finding their way into mainstream. And sales are growing rapidly, according to the Consumer Technology Association. Sales of drones are expected to double this year to an estimated $800 million, compared with last year’s $443 million, according to CTA data.
DJI’s new store in Lone Tree is definitely a product showcase, much like the other recently opened DJI stores in New York and Bellevue, Wash., Lisberg said.
There’s a giant cage near the back that lets staff fly and demonstrate the drones. Many on staff have a drone license and are involved with the local community. All drones on display are meant to be picked up and touched. Want to try one? Just ask.
“We want to make money. We’re not a company known for entering marketing and taking on projects that won’t make money,” Lisberg said. “But at the same time, there’s no physical showcase in the U.S. to show off DJI. From our perspective, if they’re selling our competitors, we don’t necessarily want to give a showcase to our competitors as well.”
Billy Nicholson of Denver checks out the DJI Matrice 600, a drone that sells for $4,599 at the newly opened DJI store at the Park Meadows mall. Shenzhen, China-based DJI is the market leader for consumer drones.