The next time you walk into a Best Buy store, there's a good chance you'll see Samsung's answer to Apple's retail stores.
The South Korean electronics giant, which has been closing the gap between itself and Apple, is rolling out hundreds of mini-shops across the U.S. inside Best Buy big-box locations as well as its smaller mobile-specific retail shops. The stores are formally called Samsung Experience Shops and will showcase Samsung products.
A couple of shops opened in March and more have opened since. Samsung hopes to have 900 of them up and running by the end of this month with another 500 opening throughout "late spring and early summer."
One of the primary purposes of the shops is to provide Samsung customers with assistance on their devices. That's no surprise considering Samsung credits its social media fans for sparking its decision to build out the shops.
"We heard from those fans and they said 'Hey Samsung, we love your products but are you going to be there for the life of my product ownership?' " Ketrina Dunagan, Samsung's vice president of retail and channel marketing, said Monday.
Dunagan said the mini-shops allow Samsung to educate its customers about their device's features by teaching them in-person with staffers trained by the company itself.
"Consumers want to know that the people they're speaking to are knowledgeable about the products they're speaking about," Dunagan said. "When it comes to explaining to the consumer how to really use their device, that we feel is best done through Samsung employees."
This, of course, is very similar to what Apple -- and Microsoft and Sony -- do at their stores. However, those three all have independent retail locations. Samsung says it considered opening its own locations but found that would take too long and not be helpful to its customers. Instead, Dunagan said Samsung decided to partner with Best Buy in order to get the shops opened as quickly as possible.
The shops will focus on Samsung's smartphones, tablets, laptops and cameras. and accessories made specifically for their devices. Best Buy will continue to stock Samsung products throughout its stores.
And similar to Apple stores, some Samsung shops will include a section called Samsung Smart Service, where specialists will help users with technical support throughout the life of their products. Samsung expects its shops to be there helping customers for a long time.
"This is not a temporary endeavor," Dunagan said. "Once a brand commits to a branded presence to retail it's making a commitment to consumers that we will be there. So you will see this a year from now."
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