Samsung to open mini-stores in Best Buys

Samsung has announced that it will be opening stores inside 1,400 Best Buys by this summer.

Models hold a Samsung Galaxy S III Mini phone and a Galaxy S III phone during the Mini's world premiere in Frankfurt in October. Samsung is expected to open 1,400 mini-stores in Best Buy.

In what looks like a direct challenge to Apple, Samsung has teamed up with Best Buy to bring Samsung boutiques into Best Buys nation-wide.

The Samsung Experience Shop will take up an entire section of Best Buy stores and will display Samsung phones, laptops, cameras, tablets, television, and, of course, accessories.

In addition to a centralized shopping “experience,” owners of Samsung products will have access to in-store customer service.

The mini-shops, set to begin opening on April 8, will have Samsung employees there to assist consumers looking for new gadgets.

“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,” says vice president of retail marketing for Samsung Mobile's American unit Ketrina Dunagan, according to ZDNet.

Ms. Dunagan goes on to say that "70 percent of the population lives within 10 miles of a Best Buy." A centralized shop for all Samsung products means that Samsung will be able to reach that wide audience.

According to a COMscore report released in March, Samsung holds 21.4 percent of the American smart-phone market. That’s just behind Apple, who ranked first with 37.8 percent.

“This effort is the last of a three-legged stool, from products to marketing and now retail,” says Dunagan, according to Bloomberg News.

Best Buy already sells Apple products from special, dedicated sections on the showroom floor. The Samsung Experience Shop, however, will be larger and will allow customers to purchase Samsung products directly.

Of course, Samsung already has retail locations, however, those shops have not had the success or popularity of Apple stores.

“Operating standalone retail stores has been a huge advantage for Apple, but it's a strategy that few companies have been able to replicate,” writes CNet’s Shara Tibken.

ZDNet’s Charlie Osborne explains that opening shops inside Best Buys will save Samsung the vast amount of money and time required to build multiple retail locations.

The announcement could also shake up Best Buy's fortunes. The Minnesota-based retailer has seen a decline in sales, due in part to stiff competition from other retailers like Amazon and Walmart.

“For Best Buy, the move could help further establish the retailer as a player in the mobile segment and reverse trends that have seen Best Buy struggling as consumers increasingly opt for Internet-based shopping,” writes AppleInsider’s Kevin Bostic.

Best Buy’s struggles are nothing new. In a world where CDs and DVDs have been replaced by digital files, the tech retailer has had to find different ways to keep afloat. After realizing that customers were window-shopping in stores but purchasing the items online, Best Buy began to match online prices.

Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly was hired in August to the lead a “turnaround.” Mr. Joly says the Samsung Experience Shop will help revive the store.

So, will taking a page out of Apple’s book help Samsung and Best Buy? We’ll find out by June. 

For more tech news, follow Aimee on Twitter, @aimee_ortiz

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