Samsung to enhance its presence in Best Buys

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Samsung to enhance its presence in Best Buys

Samsung Electronics, stepping up a battle with Apple, will staff mini-stores at Best Buy’s U.S. locations to showcase how its tablets, smartphones and televisions work together.

Starting Monday, the electronics maker will open 500 Samsung Experience Shops inside Best Buy, taking up about 460 square feet of prime space near the front of the retailer’s largest stores Samsung said in a statement today. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Samsung, stung by Apple lawsuits accusing the company of “slavishly” copying products, is spending hundreds of millions of dollars this year to prove to consumers it can innovate as effectively as its U.S. competitor. Samsung will hire its own staff to demonstrate new features on the upcoming Galaxy S4 phone, and show how content can be transferred to its smart TVs, laptops and tablets, said Ketrina Dunagan, vice president of retail marketing for Samsung Mobile’s U.S. unit.

“This effort is the last of a three-legged stool, from products to marketing and now retail,” Dunagan said in an interview.

Best Buy’s largest U.S. stores typically measure about 40,000 square feet. The companies plan to add smaller Samsung spaces by June at about 1,000 other Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile locations, Dunagan said.

The Samsung Experience Shops are a direct challenge to Apple, maker of the iPhone, which leads smartphones sales in the U.S. with 38 percent of the market versus 21 percent for Samsung, according to a March 6 research report from ComScore. Samsung leads worldwide with 40 percent of the 545.2 million smartphones shipped in 2012, according to researcher IDC.

“This is our first opportunity to demonstrate connected mobile products in a location with educated Samsung employees able to walk a consumer through the experience,” Dunagan said. “About 70 percent of the U.S. population is within 10 miles of a Best Buy.”

Best Buy Chief Executive Officer Hubert Joly, hired in August to lead a turnaround at the biggest U.S. consumer electronics retailer, has made the store-within-a-store concept a linchpin of his plan to revive sales.

To fend off Web retailer and Wal-Mart Stores, the largest U.S. store chain, Richfield, Minnesota-based Best Buy seeks to distinguish its locations as places where consumers can explore differences between devices and operating systems, and obtain sales and service, said Scott Anderson, vice president of phones and tablets.

“When you’re the biggest seller of consumer electronics in the U.S., and you partner with all of these successful companies, whether it is Apple or Samsung or Sony or Toshiba, you need that space to demonstrate their products,” Anderson said in an interview.

Apple has more than 400 stores around the world, with 150 outside the U.S. It also sells its products in dedicated sections at about 740 big-box Best Buy stores, said Jeff Haydock, a Best Buy spokesman.

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