By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
UPDATED! Richfield, Minn. — Samsung will leverage the traffic in Best Buy stores by rolling out dedicated boutiques for its cellphones, tablets, laptops, cameras and accessories.
By early May, 900 Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile specialty stores will feature the Samsung Experience Shop, with the remainder launching by early summer, Best Buy announced.
The shops enable consumers to interact with and buy Samsung’s mobile products “and experience how the devices connect together to enrich their lives,” the retailer said.
Only Apple has dedicated sales areas in Best Buy stores.
“This is part of our Renew Blue transformation strategy – working closely with vendor partners to innovate and drive value, while also updating our stores to focus on growing and profitable categories,” said Shawn Score, head of U.S. Retail for Best Buy.
In select stores, a combination of “Samsung Experience consultants” and Best Buy sales associates will help customers purchase and activate cellphones, educate them about products, and support them “throughout the lifecycle of their product,” the retailer said. The Samsung Experience consultants will assist with product demonstrations, basic product services, Samsung account set up, warranty registration, and post-sale support, Best Buy added.
The shops will vary in size, with the largest being about 460 square feet. In the larger shops, a Samsung Connected Solutions area will show consumers how Samsung devices share content across multiple screens, Best Buy added.
To go with the physical boutiques, Best Buy will set up an on-line Samsung boutique later in the second quarter for on-line sales and support at www.bestbuy.com/samsungexperienceshop.
The rollout was hailed by at least one investment advisory company, Janney Montgomery Scott, which said the plan “is indicative of Best Buy making merchandising progress as well as highlighting the value of Best Buy real estate. This is the second player, Apple being the first, which has gone the route of leveraging Best Buy real estate to drive people into their respective ecosystems.”
The boutiques “will inevitably use up some of that CD/DVD square footage at multiples of productivity and margin,” the company added.
Janney also contended that it is “pretty confident this will end any possibility of showrooming with Samsung products.” Samsung “simply won’t tolerate it anymore after making this investment,” the company said.
The development could spur other vendors to set up shops at Best Buy, Janney speculated. Vendors such as Microsoft and Google “will also need to take up more space and invest more heavily in Best Buy as a distribution partner,” Janney said. “They know that today, even more than they did yesterday.”
Best Buy tested the concept in a store near Dallas before deciding to roll out the departments.
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