Why open your own retail stores when you can partner with the biggest electronics retailer in the U.S.?
Best Buy and Samsung announced today that 1,400 of the retailer’s stores will get “Samsung Experience Shops,” where consumers can test out Samsung’s smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets. Best Buy will start adding the ministores in April, and it expects to reach 900 stores by early May, completing the roll-out by early summer.
A few of the ministores will also feature “Samsung Smart Service,” which will feature “Samsung Experience Consultants” who will show off product features, run demos, and help customers set up Samsung accounts. Geek.com was the first to report on this partnership last week.
I’ve run into a few Samsung employees at Best Buy stores in New York City over the past year who were eager to show off the new features in Samsung’s cameras and phones. Those encounters were generally a bit awkward, though, since it wasn’t clear initially that they worked for Samsung or why they wanted to help customers. The Experience Shops should give those Samsung consultants a much clearer purpose.
In a way, this ministore strategy is similar to the way Samsung has focused on developing its products. Rather than embark on a complex retail scenario of its own, Samsung is capitalizing on its already large presence within Best Buy stores to connect with likely buyers. It’s not unlike how Samsung cemented itself as a key component maker for computer memory, TVs, and smartphones before it used that experience to build its own products. (In this case, Samsung likely won’t embark on its own retail stores, but its ministore presence shows how much pull it has with Best Buy.)
With these ministores, Samsung avoids the ghost town problem of Microsoft’s retail store, and it also avoids investing too much in shops that have no chance against Apple’s stores. The ministores are a win-win for Best Buy and Samsung — though they will likely hurt other Android phone makers (sorry, HTC).
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