Samsung’s coming to a mall near you — if you live in California, New York or Texas.
The company on Thursday said it plans to open three Samsung Experience Stores, at these locations: The Americana at Brand in Los Angeles; Roosevelt Field on Long Island in Garden City, New York; and The Galleria in Houston. The locations will open Feb. 20, the same day Samsung unveils its Galaxy S10 and foldable smartphones during an event in San Francisco.
It also will launch pop-up stores in other malls next month.
Samsung is the world’s biggest phone and TV maker, but it doesn’t operate its own stores to sell its latest gadgets. Instead, it’s long relied on partners like carriers and big box retailers to push its devices to consumers. In 2013, it started partnering with Best Buy on minishops within the retailer’s stores to show off Samsung’s electronics.
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Then in 2016, it opened the Samsung 837 showroom at 837 Washington in New York’s Meatpacking District. The location houses demos of Samsung’s various products but doesn’t have devices for sale.
At the same time that Samsung’s moving deeper into retail, rival Apple could also make some changes in its stores. Angela Ahrendts, its head of retail, plans to leave in April after five years at the company. During her tenure, she turned Apple stores into gathering places and ushered in a redesign of new and old stores. But some of her moves — like removing payment areas and lines in favor of floating store employees checking out customers on their iPhones — faced criticism for making it harder to make a purchase.
Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s HR chief, will take on Ahrendts’ responsibilities to complement her current role as head of human resources.
The stores also will feature displays to give you hands-on time with new products, as well as demos from Samsung experts. And you can receive customer support and assistance, including walk-in repair for your Samsung mobile devices.
You’ll be able to interact with 4D VR experiences like virtual Titanic rides and play games with friends in Samsung’s 4K gaming lounge. Samsung also will display its newest 8K TVs and help you build your own AR Emoji for its smartphones.
“We want to build a ‘playground’ for Samsung fans — a place to learn about and try out all of the amazing new products we have to offer,” said YH Eom, the new president and CEO of Samsung Electronics America.
The stores come as Samsung faces a slowdown in smartphone sales. Last month, it reported a steep drop in revenue and profits. Most of its businesses, from chips to displays, felt the effects of stronger competition and weaker demand in the handset sector. Its smartphone sales declined, memory chips destined for handsets didn’t sell as well, and its mobile displays suffered.
It’s become harder for handset vendors to make huge changes in their devices and differentiate themselves from one another. Prices for the latest and greatest phones have increased at the same time that US carriers have gotten rid of subsidies. All of that has meant people are waiting longer to upgrade.
For Samsung, opening its own stores lets it have more of a direct link to customers. It also lets the company provide better tech support and customer service as people hold onto their devices longer and as phones get more complex. Consumers have gotten used to how regular smartphones work, but Samsung’s long-awaited foldable phone will introduce a completely new form of device that’s foreign to pretty much everyone.
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