Inside Samsung’s Canadian Retail Strategy

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South Korean conglomerate Samsung launched its first Canadian location in 2012, and has been perfecting its retail model ever since. The company now operates five Canadian stores that highlight the brand’s products, in unique retail environments that merge experiences with attractive retail design. 

The company’s first Canadian retail store, spanning 1,500 square feet, opened in the spring of 2012 at Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby. A second store followed in February of 2014, when Samsung opened a 1,900 square foot unit at CF Richmond Centre, also in suburban Vancouver. A 2,200 square foot West Edmonton Mall store followed in November of 2014, and a 2,535 square foot CF Sherway Gardens store in Toronto followed in November of 2015. 

Most recently, in October of 2016, Samsung unveiled a 3,395 square foot in the Nordstrom-anchored expansion wing at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The store, designed by innovative Vancouver-based design firm Cutler, features stunning bright interiors that highlight product contained within. 

Samsung’s stores promote the company’s products by “allowing Canadians to experience a retail environment where inspiration meets innovation,” according to Patricia Heath, Vice President, Retail Excellence at Samsung Canada. Retail locations allow consumers “to discover Samsung technology first hand, inviting them to explore the GALAXY of possibilities with a focus on Samsung’s mobile ecosystem”, she notes. 

Ms. Heath discussed the new Yorkdale store, describing how it features immersive experiences that showcase Samsung’s innovations. The retail space “truly brings the brand to life – whether through a showcase of the full Samsung mobile ecosystem, a first-in-Canada 4D Gear VR experience, a Gear 360 camera demo area and the largest assortment of Samsung mobile accessories in Canada,” she said, also noting that the store has a separate customer service area that assists consumers with technical support and a consultation areas that provides them with product knowledge and training.

“We want visitors to our Yorkdale location to leave with a sense of discovery—a newfound understanding of how Samsung’s ‘Live Connected’ philosophy can come to life for them and seamlessly integrate into their everyday life,” said Ms. Heath. 

She went on to say, “consumers need to see, touch, feel products and understand how they can seamlessly integrate into their lifestyle—and they can do just that at our Yorkdale retail experience.”  This sentiment is shared by Farla Efros, retail expert and President of HRC Retail Advisory, who described how experiential stores are particularly attractive to Millennials and ‘Generation Z’, who are seeking out experiences as well as the latest gadgets. 

Lighting is a remarkably important component to drive sales in retail stores, according to Maarten Koorn, Chief Operating Officer at MyPlace Building Services Ltd. Mr. Koorn, who’s company does maintenance work (as well as construction) for major retailers, notes that sales in some stores often go down when lights burn out in certain areas. “We replace lighting as quickly as possible if they go out, otherwise retailers tell us that sales drop”, said Mr. Koorn. 

As to whether or not Samsung will open more Experience Stores in Canada, Ms. Heath wouldn’t comment, except to say “Samsung is committed to bringing Canadians closer to the Samsung products they are passionate about through innovative experiences—be it through retail, product launches and events or a variety of other experiences.  We are excited for what 2017 has in store.” 

Given the foot traffic witnessed in the new Yorkdale Samsung, we’d be surprised if Canada didn’t see more locations in the coming years. 

Photos by Vincenzo Pistritto

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Editor-in-Chief of Retail Insider and President/CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton, and consultant to the Retail Council of Canada. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.

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