SAN FRANCISCO – Sony Electronics president and COO Mike Fasulo used a West Coast press conference here Thursday to formally announce the planned opening of the company’s new home-theater retail spaces at approximately 350 Best Buy locations nationwide.
Called the “Sony Experience at Best Buy,” the merchandising program will essentially deploy shop-in-shops stocked with Sony’s enhanced fixtures, interactive demonstration areas and manned by dedicated, Sony-trained “Sony Experience Experts.”
The new “Sony Experience at Best Buy” program will begin deploying mid-May at Best Buy stores nationwide, Fasulo said.
“We welcome consumers to experience the best of Sony with a premium and unique shopping experience at Best Buy,” said Fasulo, “With user-friendly, interactive demonstration experiences and a dedicated team of Best Buy product experts trained to deliver a world-class experience, the Sony Experience at Best Buy will be an ideal place to inspire, engage and educate consumers about Sony’s home-theater products.”
“The Sony Experience will give consumers a shopping experience unlike anything before,” Mike Mohan, Best Buy’s chief merchandising officer, said in a statement. The concept of dedicating sales and merchandising space inside key Best Buy stores, where manufacturer partners can manage the sales and merchandising programs for their product lines directly to consumers, is not new. Companies including Apple, Samsung and Microsoft have employed similar programs in recent years.
Samsung began rolling out Best Buy Experience shop-in-shops last spring, in a bid to find a more profitable use floor space.
Microsoft also installed a selling section last summer, in part, to boost awareness and sales of its Windows 8 OS and touchscreen PCs.
Also, Google has offered small displays for its Chromebooks and Chromecast dongle.
Even online rival Amazon once had a dedicated display area for its Kindle for a short period.
Sony said the Sony Experience stores will be outfitted to deliver a home-theater experience along with a comprehensive selection of Sony’s TV line-up, from entry level HDTVs to premium 4K Ultra HD TVs.
Many of Sony’s new 4K Ultra HD TVs will be presented as highlights of the merchandising program, Sony said. Related components that will be part of the merchandising mix will include: 4K Ultra HD Media Players (FMP-X1 and FMP-X10) and the 4K HandyCam camcorder (FDR-AX100), home-theater sound solutions, soundbars and gaming solutions showcasing PlayStation 4, among others.
Sony said it expects its Experience at Best Buy shops will offer consumers “unique demonstration capabilities and an immersive shopping experience that will increase confidence in purchasing new technologies.”
Visitors will be invited to use touchscreens to control and engage with various content demonstrations on the TV wall.
Customers can compare 4K Ultra HD TVs alongside HDTVs with HD video and native 4K content. Sony will also demonstrate its many of its proprietary technologies, including Trilumios Display, and allow visitors to interactively compare broadcast and Blu-ray quality content.
Fasulo said: “For our consumers this will be an interactive environment that allows them to shop and compare products and features intuitively. The dedicated Sony Experience Experts will be certified and on hand to assist and explain the benefits Sony products have to offer.”
Sony said it is also attending to online shoppers by offering a “Sony Experience at BestBuy.com” section where customers can peruse a dedicated online space to learn about Sony gear and shop the broad range of Sony home theater products.
Sony has long provided in-store shops of varying sizes to independent dealers like Abt and Fry’s, as well as to national retailer Toys“R”Us. This, however, is the first such implementation in Best Buy stores, and follows the recent closing of 20 of the manufacturer’s 31 Sony Stores.
Alan Wolf contributed to this article.