Samsung’s New Hire Hints at Retail Expansion

SAMSUNG tablet

A new hire by Samsung (SSNLF.PK) may indicate the company is looking to move toward building a series of stores to house its products, Apple Insider reports. Rumor has it that Tim Gudgel, a former employee of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) who specializes in store design and layout, has been brought on by the South Korean technology company.

Gudgel’s résumé certainly isn’t short on credentials. He graduated from Washington State University; worked at Gehry Partners, the architectural firm of Frank Gehry; and has, as mentioned before, spent some time at Apple, where he worked on planning the company’s now-famous series of Apple stores. By acquiring Gudgel for its American division, it seems as though Samsung has its eyes on creating a series of retail outlets in the United States to sell its products.

Samsung’s vending opportunities have been mainly limited to sections or stands within other retailers. So-called Samsung Experience Shops exist in more than 1,000 Best Buy locations throughout the U.S., in which customers can interact with Samsung products and see what the company has to offer. However, similar opportunities exist for Samsung’s competitors within Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), making the mini-stores somewhat useful but taking away any component of a differential advantage.

Samsung has shown some interest in expanding its retail potential overseas, though even then, the company has fallen under criticism for copying Apple’s methods. A Samsung store in Australia was lambasted as having the same floor plan as Apple’s stores, while a display in one of the company’s booths in Italy was attacked for using a series of icons that were allegedly borrowed directly from Apple, according to Apple Insider’s report.

What Gudgel could bring to the table is the expertise to innovate in terms of store design while maintaining the contemporary feeling that is so important to have in tech retail outlets. If Samsung is planning on expanding its retail operations into the United States, it will need a plan that sets itself apart from Apple as well as one that allows it to capitalize on some of the same trends the iPhone maker has.

Companies like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) have simply tried to copy Apple by placing stores at many of the same locations as its tech rival. While this can serve as a way to identify regions that have high traffic for tech-savvy consumers, it is important to note the difference in demographics between the average customer of the two companies. Being aware that Apple targets higher-income consumers is an important part of Apple’s strategy, and it should be an important part of its competitors’ strategies, as well.

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