Samsung introduces an experience

Samsung introduces an experience store at Gulf City to properly introduce its new products and technologies,
Originally published in the Business Guardian for December 19, 2013.
Jorge Lopez and Michelle Alvarez of Samsung at the company’s new Experience store in Gulf City. Photograph by Mark Lyndersay.

There were two tiers of crowds gathered outside of Samsung’s new Experience Store in Gulf City last Thursday.
Invited guests huddled inside the black velvet rope, listening to Elias Kabeche, Samsung’s vice-president of sales and marketing for Samsung Latin America explain the rationale for the new store while curious mall visitors waited for a chance to find out what goodies awaited within.

Both groups would have had to wait until the weekend to find out what that experience would really be like because most of the product intended to fill dozens of rows of waiting display hooks was still being cleared through T&T Customs & Excise.

By now, the phones and tablets will be on display and Samsung’s new store will be busy welcoming customers interested in what the company has to offer local consumers.
“The store is here to sell the experience,” said Jorge Lopez, Regional Mobile Product Manager for the Caribbean.
“Users can come in and touch and feel the devices, get a sense of how they work and what they can do.”

“It’s like buying a car,” adds Michelle Alvarez who is responsible for setting up the Samsung Experience Stores (SES) in the Caribbean and Miami.
“You don’t buy it on the Internet.”

Some people do exactly that, but most folks still like to take a car out for a spin first to see if it’s the right fit for them.
The new SES stores are designed to duplicate that experience for users interested in the company’s technology.
This was the fourth store opening for Samsung in the region, after store openings in Aruba, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

“What’s the difference between the large Samsung note and a similarly sized tablet?” Lopez asks.
“This is where you can find out. Eventually, every store in the Caribbean will carry everything that we offer.”
That won’t include the company’s household products or new large screen televisions though, since Samsung does well selling those through traditional retail channels.

The new stores will offer the very newest devices, such as the new Home Sync system, a 1TB network attached storage device running Android that connects televisions, tablets and smart phones into a quite intriguing mesh for personal media files.

Samsung’s smartphones and tablets can act as remotes for the device which pushes content to large screen televisions as well as play video and music on the screens of mobile device users.
“And we have Justin,” says Michelle Alvarez, reminding Jorge Lopez of the dedicated trainer who will be coaching all of the store’s employees on the fine details of all the capabilities of the devices.

All staff will be trained to do level one service, handling software upgrades and setting up phones. More detailed repair work will be handled by a local service center and loaner phones will be available to customers who will be without devices under warranty repair.

All the phones and call-capable tablets will be offered unlocked at the new Samsung SES store, though bMobile has a partner role in the new store to offer carrier services to new customers.
The new Gulf City store will begin offering 80 per cent of the Samsung mobile device product line, and its growth will depend on market response.

It’s a big win for mobile users in South Trinidad, but the question was asked repeatedly, when does North Trinidad get its SES?
“The next store will be near the capital,” Michelle Alvarez offered with a guarded smile, glancing at Jorge Lopez.
Taking the cue, Lopez smiled broadly and added, “Between March and June, 2014.”
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