Ina Fried

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A Look Inside One of Samsung’s New Stores at Best Buy

From a distance, the Best Buy in Lewisville, Texas, looks like the big-box retailer’s typical outlets that dot the suburban U.S. landscape.

samsung_best_buy

The blue-and-yellow logo shines atop a large building in a sprawling strip mall, next to a Guitar Center and not far from a Costco, a Chipotle and a Steak ’n Shake.

Inside, though, it is home to one of the first Samsung shops to be located inside a Best Buy. Samsung’s 450-square-foot shop occupies less than 1 percent of the Best Buy’s overall area, but its central spot means that anyone looking to buy an iPad or Mac has to walk by the giant display of Samsung laptops, phones and tablets.

That makes life pretty good for Brian Hagglund, the consultant Samsung hired to oversee operations at the store. Hagglund, who has worked as a representative for other electronics companies in the past, said he is often able to sell would-be iPad buyers on the benefits of Samsung’s pen-equipped Galaxy Note tablet.

“That’s one of our biggest opportunities,” he said, noting he has a pretty easy sell if he gets just five minutes to show off the Samsung tablet.

The Lewisville location is one of six stores where Best Buy has been testing the store-within-a-store concept ahead of Thursday’s formal announcement.

So far, Saturdays are the busiest times, for potential buyers as well as those coming in to fix a problem or ask a question. (How to take a screenshot is the most common query, Hagglund said.)

Hagglund and his part-time helpers can do basic support tasks such as updating a phone’s software or diagnosing hardware issues. They also have a phone they can use to call if they need further help.

That phone has only been needed three times, Hagglund said, oddly enough all on one day filled with particularly challenging issues.

With the Samsung Experience Shops inside Best Buy, the Korean electronics giant is hoping to give its customers a place to see multiple Samsung products in action, get help and build some of the same brand loyalty that Apple, Microsoft and Sony get through their stores without having to make the same investment in real estate.

Samsung has made smaller retail ventures in the past, including a New York City showroom that it closed about a year ago after running it for several years. Retail head Ketrina Dunagan said the Columbus Circle location was popular internally, but did little for customers.

More recently, Samsung had 14 kiosks during the past holiday season where it pitched its Galaxy range of products.

Best Buy officials said the retailer found it had to do surprisingly little shifting to clear the space for Samsung, noting that what appears to be prime real estate was previously home to CDs and DVDs, not exactly the hottest segment of its business.

But it is making a big investment in Samsung, hoping that the fast-growing brand will help bring in more customers at a time when physical retail store sales are struggling.

Best Buy will continue to display Samsung phones, tablets, cameras and PCs in their respective categories, in addition to handing over the space needed for the Samsung shops.

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The Samsung Experience Shop inside the Best Buy in Lewisville, Texas occupies 460 square feet of prime retail space toward the front of the store.


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