Technology, for the most part, has made life a whole lot easier. However, for the convenience that digital and technological advances provide, consumers have been forced to give up one, big feature: personal service.
You have a problem with your laptop? You have to call the company’s help line, which has most likely been outsourced overseas. You can’t figure out how to use a new app on your smartphone to sync your TV and laptop? The most help you’re likely to get is from an online tutorial.
Launching on May 1, Samsung is set to create boutique retail ‘stores’ within existing Best Buy locations nationwide. Called ‘Samsung Experience Shops,’ the designated areas inside Best Buy will be similar, but larger, than Apple’s area in select Best Buys.
Samsung Experience Shops will highlight a wide range of Samsung products, from smartphones like the Galaxy line to tablets, laptops, and TVs, which consumers can demo and experience. The Experience Shops will also be staffed, by Samsung, with Samsung experts that will work in conjunction with Best Buy Employees – the aim being to provide better technical support, and a retail push, to consumers. Customers will also be able to purchase, activate, and receive support directly in the Samsung Experience Shop areas without going through the main checkout.
The mini stores will take up roughly 460 square feet within Best Buy, and occupy prime floor space near entrances and within eyesight of nearly anywhere in the store. All in all, Samsung expects to launch 1,400 of these shops by early June.
Apple has been largely successful in their retail approach, both with their own stand-alone stores and their spaces within retailers like Best Buy. But retail success is never guaranteed, and often hard to come by. The store-within-a-store approach by Samsung appears to the smart/best option for the time being. Samsung is able to avoid overhead costs, their products are featured together to better highlight functionality across platforms, and, in terms of smartphones, Samsung will have a greater presence to maintain control with the Galaxy S in the Android market.
On the flipside, this isn’t a sure thing for the electronics giant. While the Samsung Experience Shops should provide greater customer service and build brand value, will it help actual sales – which is the end goal. The shops could end up turning into support centers for consumers who purchased Samsung products somewhere else, as opposed to retail shops that spur purchase by demonstrating features and interconnectivity among products. Additionally, Best Buy has seen a decline in sales in recent quarters with more people shopping online, which could negatively impact the effect of the Experience Shops.
Samsung has certainly tempered the risks associated with entering retail, but it will be interesting to see if the return is in dollars and cents or the more intangible return of customer satisfaction.
Images via CNET News