Analysis by Claire Reilly

Samsung is realising the benefits of innovative point of sale, both in the direct selling space and in retail stores, with the brand picking up a number of awards at the Australia & New Zealand POPAI Retail and Shopper Marketing awards in Sydney last week.

Organised by Point of Purchase Advertising International (POPAI), the awards recognised brands, suppliers and retailers that are increasing consumer engagement in the retail space, through areas such as store design, window displays, interactive experiences and point of sale.

Samsung picked up a total of six Gold awards at the event, including the overall Gold award for Shopper Marketing and Innovation, and two awards for window and digital displays at its Samsung Experience Stores in George Street, Sydney, and Highpoint, Melbourne.

An example of Samsung's dedicated laundry stand at JB Hi-Fi Home in Moore Park, Sydney.

Samsung has made no secret of its drive to increase its branding and presence in retail stores across Australia. In May this year, the brand said its “huge investment” in the retail space in the form of a new ‘Paragon’ point of sale model.

The brand has also worked on in-mall installations to sell its smart device story, and now it has two full-scale retail stores to drive that message home even further.

With complete creative control over window displays and store design, as well as a full store footprint to play with, Samsung has used its George Street and Highpoint Experience Stores as test sites for a number of interesting larger-scale displays.

Whether it’s a full window dedicated to its recently released Curved OLED TV, seasonal displays at Christmastime or jibes made at its competitors, Samsung uses its window space to sell a lifestyle and a brand image, as well as the products themselves.

A 2012 Christmas display in Samsung's George Street Experience Store.

Samsung took the lead-up to the recent launch of the iPhone 5s and 5c as an opportunity to make a not-so-subtle dig at Apple, with a window display that read “iChanged” promoting the Galaxy S4 smartphone. This followed on from its April 2013 display, titled “Taking on Goliath”, for which the brand won the POPAI award for Window Displays last week, in association with brand marketing company Cheil.

In the brief for the POPAI awards, Samsung said the April launch of the GS4 was a “critical and daunting challenge” but the window display resulted in more than 21,000 customer interactions, 6,000 detailed product demonstrations and “more shoppers were attracted to the Samsung store than ever before”.

It’s hard to believe Samsung would have generated the same result with a few product plinths and “Sale” stickers.

Samsung's window challenge to Apple.

The focus on selling an experience rather than a device is one that JB Hi-Fi also demonstrated in its submissions for the POPAI awards. The retailer picked up a Silver award for a display promoting the DVD release of the TV series Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War, thanks to a life-sized cricket display in the window, while its gamer-targeting Halo 4 display also made the shortlist.

While Samsung might not be able to do a full takeover of JB Hi-Fi’s window in the same way it can at its own experience stores, Australian retailers can still reap the benefits when a brand goes to such efforts with marketing.

Having walked past the George Street Experience Store on numerous occasions, the more eye-catching displays certainly grab the attention of passers-by, even if they don’t walk through the doors. Planting the seed of a thought to purchase a GS4 may be all this display achieves, or it could create a halo effect around Samsung’s lower-priced products — either way, it’s a win.

Furthermore, when consumers walk into a store and walk out empty handed, the brand doesn’t see that as a wasted customer interaction.

“At the end of the day it’s about giving consumers an experience with our devices and how they work together,” Samsung Australia’s vice president of telecommunications, Tyler McGee, said at the opening of the brand’s Melbourne Experience Store. “If they come and learn about their device here and then go buy it from a JB Hi-Fi, I’m happy.

“We have really strong partners out there already, so from our perspective we’re enhancing what they do and working with them on delivering the same experience that we deliver in our stores into their store footprints.”

When suppliers direct customers to retail stores, retailers win. And if those retailers can gain access to point of sale materials from suppliers, it brings another benefit to their stores — especially when that marketing material is tried and tested.

Philip Newton, vice president of consumer electronics at Samsung Electronics Australia, said the importance of point of sale merchandising in driving home the story that begins with the brand’s US $10 billion spend on R&D.

“When you are spending that much money to make the product right, everything that happens after the product is made is super critical,” said Newton.

“How do you actually get the customer to engage with a new product? How does the shopper understand it and how do they experience it?”

To drive customer engagement, Samsung introduced the Paragon display as a way to educate consumers about the features of its (often tech-heavy) products in a simple and easy to understand way. By creating a “story” around the products, according to Newton, Samsung can sell its products as part of an entire ecosystem, rather than just solitary devices.
After the first generation Paragon stands were rolled out last year, Samsung saw results.

“Almost immediately after the initial roll-out, we began seeing significant uplift in our business across all the products that were there on that stand,” he said. “And we found that the more we educated consumers, the less important price became.

“There is a win with Paragon, for both our partners and ourselves. The win for the partner is their ASPs are rising and their profitability is rising. For us, we’re able to sell more premium product and we’re able to educate.”

It’s no longer enough to put a product on the shelf and hope that it will draw eyeballs. When a store is busy and customers don’t have instant access to retail sales staff — or even when those times when they're not actually inside the retail store — it’s the dynamic point of sale material that does the silent selling.

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