April 04, 2013, 12:50 PM — Samsung Electronics will challenge arch-rival Apple on the retail front by launching mini-shops in U.S. Best Buy stores in the second quarter.
The move opens direct competition in the retail market between the companies. Apple already has a big U.S. retail footprint, between its stores, its shops within Best Buy and partnerships with large retailers like Walmart.
The Samsung Experience Shops will be rolled out at 1,400 Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile stores, Samsung spokesman Nam Ki Yung said. The stores are set to open "from early April to late June," he added.
Best Buy's Samsung Experience Shop Web page shows that shops have already opened in more than 30 states. The shops will carry Samsung's full range of mobile products including smartphones, tablets, laptops, connected cameras and accessories. Samsung-trained consultants will staff the locations, Nam said.
The consultants will "support customers as they move through the entire process" of exploring, selecting, buying and activating mobile products and accessories, Nam said. They will also provide post-sales support, he added.
The mini-shops vary in size, with the area of the largest totaling approximately 460 square feet, according to Samsung.
In bigger Best Buy stores, there will also be a special area inside the mini-shops where customers can view demonstrations that show "how easily Samsung devices can connect and share content across multiple screens," Nam said.
Asked whether the arrangement means that Best Buy will get exclusivity or priority for Samsung's new products, Nam said only that, "There will be integrated marketing plans to support the Samsung Experience Shops."
Samsung, which operates its own retail outlets across South Korea, has yet to open a similar stores in the U.S. It remains to be seen if the Korean tech heavyweight's new partnership with Best Buy will give Samsung the presence to establish itself on the same footing with Apple in the U.S. retail market.