yARN: The rise of the branded technology retail store

yARN: The rise of the branded technology retail store

Samsung to open own store in Sydney - just down the road from Apple

The idea of an electronics company launching its own retail store is far from revolutionary. Apple has been doing it for over a decade, while Sony has also dabbled in the idea around the world. Yet although the idea is far from unique, it seems to be growing in popularity.

South Korean giant Samsung is the latest consumer electronics company to experiment in the retail space. The company is currently developing its first dedicated retail space in Australia, just down the road from Apple’s flagship George Street store.

While Samsung has remained tight-lipped about the store itself, applications to council show that it will be located next to Myer in George street, filling the 213 square metre space vacated by FCUK. The Sydney store is expected to open in August.

It’s an interesting option for Samsung to pursue. The Korean company is enjoying plenty of success at the moment, leading the market in television sales, while its flagship Galaxy S III smartphone is flying off shelves around the globe.

The launch of a dedicated Samsung retail store is an obvious attempt to challenge the success Apple has had with the same strategy. And looking at the newly launched Samsung Store in Canada, it’s obvious that Cupertino’s retail savvy will provide plenty of inspiration for Samsung’s store.

From the experiential tables to the walls adorned with accessories, the interior styling of the Canadian store echoes Apple Stores around the world. And while imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, in this case there is a very real question about whether Samsung will offer enough of a unique experience to drive brand loyalty and engage its consumers like Apple has managed to do.

Apple’s Stores are not just points of sale for Apple products, but a community experience and service center as well. Walk into any Apple Store on any given day and you’ll find classes on how to use Apple products going on next to people buying the latest accessory for their iPad. It’s what sets Apple’s approach to retail apart from its competitors.

And this is the approach Samsung needs to take. Not just designing its stores like Apple, but engaging its consumers the same way. Because without that engagement, the Samsung retail store could become little more than a very expensive showcase for Samsung’s products.

Kind of like a Sony Central store, really.

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