Samsung takes smartphone battle to the storefront
Thursday, 04 April 2013 11:33
DALLAS -- Samsung has opened a new front in its battle for smartphone supremacy: the storefront.
The Korean electronics giant plans to set up mini Samsung stores inside all U.S. Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile venues within the next couple of months -- just in time for the Galaxy S4 launch. The "Samsung Experience Shops," which start rolling out Monday, will be in 500 big-box Best Buy stores and all 410 Best Buy Mobile locations by early May. Best Buy's remaining 550 large-format Best Buy stores will feature the shops by early June.
A larger retail presence within Best Buy -- one of the world's largest tech retailers -- gives Samsung a place to directly pitch its products to consumers without shouldering the risks inherent to the retail business. Think of it as a lite version of Apple's retail strategy: a lot of the benefits without the hefty costs. With the stakes so high and competition so fierce in the mobile-devices business, Samsung couldn't take a chance that its retail partners alone could effectively sell its products.
"Retail is not something you jump into lightly, especially given consumers have been expecting this as a next step for Samsung," Ketrina Dunagan, vice president of retail marketing for Samsung Telecommunications America, told CNET. "Although the carriers and retailers today provide a solid retail experience for our consumers, what we find is a lot of [buyers'] deeper questions just aren't answered."
Operating standalone retail stores has been a huge advantage for Apple, but it's a strategy that few companies have been able to replicate. But with its position atop the smartphone market and a breadth of products few can match, Samsung wasn't content to have its contents stuck in part of a single aisle.