A Paragon of point of sale: Samsung’s “huge investment” in retail

In time for the launch of its newest TV and Home Theatre line-up, Samsung is investing heavily in a new point-of-sale (POS) concept designed to provide hands-on education and a true product experience.

Known as “Paragon”, the large display stand features a full suite of products from tablets, smartphones and computers, up to large-screen TVs and Samsung’s new 9750 Home Theatre installation, complete with a lounge for shoppers to sit and get the full audio experience.

The POS was developed in response to Samsung research on customer behaviour and retail trends, and was first trialled in Harvey Norman Auburn before being rolled out into 70 stores across Australia in 2012. This year, the brand is going bigger and better with new features and an expansion into further retail locations from next week — the original 70 stands will be retrofitted and Samsung has plans to be in 200 stores by the end of the year.

Appliance Retailer sat down with Philip Newton, vice president of consumer electronics at Samsung Electronics Australia, to discuss the brand’s “huge investment” in the retail space. For a company that spent more than US $10 billion on research and development last year alone, Newton said it was vital for Samsung to get it right on the shop floor, where the sales really count.

“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?

“This is a stand which displays the key products and technologies that we’re going to push for the next year. But only those products which have a story to tell get to be on Paragon — so the key smart products and the ecosystem that revolves around them.”

One of the key discoveries made from earlier iterations of the Paragon display was the need for a “human element”. As a result, the new stands will be attended by Samsung Ambassadors to provide in-depth information to assist customers, and to help train staff on Samsung products when the store is quiet.

“This is really the cherry on top,” said Newton. “When a customer approaches the stand, the Ambassador can ask questions to try and break the ice and understand if the customer is in the market for something and what is it that they’re looking for. At the end of the discussion, the customer can walk away or they can be directed to a sales person to complete the sale.”

This personal advice will also be supplemented with interactive tablets that give information on products and guide consumers through the learning process with similar questions that a sales person might ask to qualify the sale.

After solid success with the original 2012 Paragon stands, Newton said he had high expectations for the new displays.

“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.”

While Samsung has solid technology and products backed by billions of dollars worth of R&D, at the end of the day, it all comes day to the last three feet. And Newton knows this more than anyone.

“By the time someone comes to a store, they’ve pretty much made up their mind about what they want. The last moment is critical. It’s that very last minute of the last mile that makes a difference.

“When you’ve got partners who are prepared to try something new, disrupt the space a little big, educate the shopper and convert them, it works. And we’ve seen it. It is demonstrable. It has a marked impact.”

The original Paragon display stand, first rolled out in 2012.

This year, the stand has had a face-lift to include new products, larger screen sizes and more interactivity. The new look Paragon stand will be rolled out as of next week in retailers including JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Bing Lee and The Good Guys.

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