Samsung to Hang Its Shingle Inside Best Buys

The latest consumer electronics manufacturer to follow the store-within-a-store trend is Samsung, which announced Thursday that Best Buy will dedicate space within its U.S. showrooms and specialty stores for the Samsung Experience Shop, an area dedicated to the company’s products and demonstrations.

Best Buy will rollout the Samsung Experience Shop in more than 1,400 Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile stores. The retailer will begin with 500 stores on Monday, with approximately 900 more opening up by early May. The rest of the Samsung shops will be open by early summer.

While sizes may vary, Best Buy is carving out as much as 460 feet for Samsung in the largest locations. The shops will highlight Samsung’s full range of mobile products such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, connected cameras and accessories.

Apple has a similar dedicated space at Best Buy stores. The Samsung Experience Shop is different in that both Samsung Experience Consultants and Best Buy blue-shirt sales associates will staff it.

Samsung says its goal is to offer customers a full end-to-end experience so they can explore, purchase, activate and service their Samsung mobile device in one location. Samsung Smart Service will help consumers get set up on their mobile devices; transfer contacts, photos and other content from their old device; and provide ongoing support throughout the product’s lifecycle.

The Samsung Experience Shop is not a new concept for the company; it used to operate an Experience store in the Shops at Columbus Circle at Time Warner Center in New York City. That standalone store, however, didn’t sell anything. Samsung used the outlet to showcase its full range of products from smartphones and tablets to TVs and even appliances.

Touch and Play

“How do people learn technology interfaces best? They learn by watching how others use the products,” Josh Crandall, principal analyst at Netpop Research told the E-Commerce Times. “Samsung’s move to train product specialists to demo their products inside of Best Buy is an effort to improve the first impression.”

The Experience Consultants can demonstrate product features, and potentially add to sales by demonstrating the connectivity of each product.

“I think the benefit is that despite all the attempts to make everything plug-and-play, most consumers still consider the concept of connecting everything in their home is still intimidating,” Alan Bullock, associate director of connected imaging trends at InfoTrends told the E-Commerce Times. “Displaying the experience may explain if and how it can be simplified. Consumers are more likely to adopt and embrace connected devices.”

Best Buy’s New Tenant

Samsung and Best Buy did not disclose any financial details involved in the deal. However, Best Buy is facing its own business challenges, particulary with the consumer practice of “showrooming,” where they visit a store to handle products, then buy them somewhere else online.

“It’s a smart move if Samsung and Best Buy can generate enough foot traffic to the new Experience Shops,” said Crandall.

The retailer and the mobile goods manufacturer will have to position the Shops well, and aggessively market them, to make a difference.

“All this is probably good for Samsung,” Jim McGregor, founder of TIRIAS Research, told the E-Commerce Times. “If Best Buy has that much extra space to give away, that doesn’t bode well for them.”

It might be a smart strategy for Best Buy to sublease their space to consumer electronics vendors.

“Best Buy is a store that has grown, and now it is trying to shrink its real estate,” industry analyst Jeff Kagan told the E-Commerce Times. “This will allow Best Buy to keep their existing real estate and help them with the rent.”

If the Samsung Experience Shop is successful, Kagan added, Best Buy might look to “all other companies that want an island in their store.”

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