Samsung to open 'Experience Shops' inside Best Buy

Samsung Electronics Co, escalating its battle with Apple Inc, would staff mini-stores at Best Buy Co US locations to showcase how its tablets, smart phones and televisions worked together.

Starting 8 April, the Suwon, South Korea-based electronics maker would open 500 Samsung Experience Shops inside Best Buy, taking up about 460 square feet of prime space near the front of the retailer's largest stores, Samsung said in a statement today. It did not disclose the financial terms.

Samsung, smarting from accusations of ''slavish'' copying of Apple products, is spending hundreds of millions of dollars this year to prove to consumers its capacity for innovation matched that of its competitor.

According to Ketrina Dunagan, vice president of retail marketing for Samsung Mobile's US unit, Samsung would hire its own staff to demonstrate new features on the upcoming Galaxy S4 phone, and show how content could be transferred to its smart TVs, laptops and tablets.

She said in an interview that the effort was the last of a three-legged stool from products to marketing and now retail.

Typically measuring about 40,000 square feet in Best Buy's largest US stores, the companies planned to add smaller Samsung spaces by June at about 1,000 other Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile locations, according to Dunagan.

The ''Samsung Experience Shops'' as they would be called are based on a store-within-a-store concept. They would be set up in 1,400+ Best Buy locations in the US in coming weeks and months and, by the second half of the year, Samsung would possess a significant retail presence tailored to its own devices and staffed with sales associates with greater knowledge of its products.

According to CNET, the shops in large-format Best Buy stores would include blue-shirted consultants employed and trained by Samsung, as well as Best Buy staffers who receive special instruction.

Apple, on its part, had enjoyed incredible success with its Apple Stores since their opening in North America in 2001. Experts say the Apple Store had emerged as a powerful pillar of Apple's overall consumer strategy due to several reasons, foremost among these being the quality and effectiveness of its sales associates.

Apple has been successful in attracting, training, and retaining high quality staff for its stores. They point out that in an era when cost-cutting affected retail experiences across all categories, Apple's associates created a high-quality customer experience for Apple's customers and prospects.