Samsung, Sony carve out own 'Experience' spaces at Best Buy

Both companies are taking a page out of the Samsung playbook, which previously created a store-within-a-store at Best Buy to sell its mobile gear.

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A Sony Experience area in a Best Buy in Rochester, Minn. Sony

Sony and Samsung are doubling down on their retail presence.

Both companies said on Thursday that it would open its own "Experience" space Best Buy locations around the country. Sony would be in 350 locations, while Samsung would be in 500. The spaces are designed to better promote their home theater products, and in particular its 4K Ultra high-definition televisions.

"With user-friendly, interactive demonstration experiences and a dedicated team of 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," said Mike Fasulo, president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics, in a statement.

"We understand the importance of the product experience in stores and will continue to work with our retail partners to showcase next-generation technologies through effective merchandising solutions," said Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics America.

While Sony touts it as a unique experience, the store-within-a-store concept isn't new. A little more than a year ago, Samsung launched its own "Samsung Experience Shops" in 500 big-box Best Buy stores and 410 Best Buy Mobile stores to better promote mobile devices such as its smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches (they are in 1,000 big-box stores now). Best Buy has increasingly carved out space for individual brands, including Dr. Dre's Beats audio accessories.

For companies like Sony, having a clearly marked off space within a store and a dedicated expert pitching its products makes for an effective sales tool. The company, like the rest of the TV industry, has seen slow adoption of expensive 4K televisions, and needs all of the help it can get.

Best Buy employees trained by Samsung and Sony will staff their respective Experience spaces. That's different from the original mobile-centric Samsung Experience space, which is staffed by a mix of Samsung and Best Buy employees.

Sony said its space would highlight its full line-up of television sets. It will also highlight its 4K HandyCam camcorder, its 4K media players, as well as audio accessories and its PlayStation 4 gaming console.

Missing from the lineup, however, are Sony's smartphones. The company's Xperia smartphones have seen moderate success at T-Mobile, but hasn't yet expanded its distribution to other carriers. A Sony spokeswoman confirmed there were no plans to include smartphones or tablets into the mix.

Even as fewer customers purchase items from physical stores, many still visit them to get first-hand experience with products. Both Samsung and Sony will catch the eye of someone potentially looking to upgrade their television.

Updated at 12:25 p.m. PT: To include Samsung's own Best Buy experience store announcement.

 

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