updated 05:20 pm EDT, Thu April 5, 2012
Samsung chases Apple, Sony on retail formula
Samsung is planning to chase rivals' retail strategy with its own, fully self-run stores in Canada, the company's national head James Politeski said in an interview. Along with store-within-a-store locations like that it opened in the UK, Samsung will have dedicated stores at parts across the country, he told Canada.com. As with Apple and Sony, it would have specific designs and train staff itself, although it would outsource the actual management to unnamed companies.
A lack of ownership was a deliberate attempt to show that the company could provide a strong experience without having a "more aggressive approach," Politeski said. He didn't say whether any of the dedicated stores would have their own service areas, often considered vital ingredients to Apple's success.
The exact locations weren't set, although hints have suggested the first would be in the Yorkdale Mall, West of downtown Toronto. The mall is noteworthy as the home of Apple's first retail store in the country.
Samsung's strategy will echo that of the companies that came years before it, which is to present an idealized experience where users can try products in a better environment that shows off the brand's strong points. Big-box stores such as Best Buy have often been blamed for damaging brands by burying products in large display sections, regularly presenting broken or neutered demo units, and having staff that often have little technology experience in general, let alone in specific products. Apple's near-fatal drop in market share during the 1990s was partly attributed to third-party retailer staff that were either pro-Windows in their personal lives, or were on commission for a Windows PC vendor, trying to steer buyers away from Macs.
No mention has been made of whether the US would also see the stores beyond its concept-only Samsung Experience in New York City. Canada is potentially a trial balloon for Samsung to see if its own stores are effective in a North American environment without the pressure of a US presence. If successful and expanding to the US, it might draw more uncomfortable comparisons for the company between itself and Apple, which is already suing Samsung for allegedly copying the designs and software of its phones and tablets.