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Samsung Experience Store visit: First of its kind, but it doesn't feel that way
On the same day as Samsung launched its latest batch of flagship smartphones — the Samsung Galaxy S10 series — it also opened up three new Samsung Experience Stores in the United States.
These new Samsung properties are the first of their kind. Previously, Samsung-branded shops existed only as temporary pop-ups or as “mini-shops” in larger stores, such as Best Buy. The Samsung Experience Store is, remarkably, the first permanent place owned by Samsung that you can walk into and buy a brand new phone, laptop, TV, or other product from the company.
Since the opening of a Samsung Experience Store is a pretty momentous occasion, Android Authority took a trip to the one located at Roosevelt Field, a mall in Garden City, which is a town on Long Island, New York. Below, you’ll find our thoughts on this new but altogether familiar experience.
Samsung Experience Store locations
If you want to visit a Samsung Experience Store for yourself, you are limited to three options for now. They are:
- The Americana at Brand in Los Angeles, CA
- Roosevelt Field on Long Island in Garden City, NY
- The Galleria in Houston, TX
Samsung will also be opening smaller, temporary pop-up stores in various locations throughout the U.S. soon.
At the Roosevelt Field location, we had the chance to chat a bit with various employees of Samsung as well as PR representatives. Unfortunately, no one could divulge where these pop-up stores would be coming, nor whether more full Samsung Experience Stores are on the way.
How much is it like an Apple store?
It would be impossible for nearly any technology company to open a store and people not ask, “How much is it like an Apple Store?” Love them or hate them, Apple Stores literally redefined the way consumers buy smartphones and computers, so it would be very difficult for any company to open a shop and not have to acknowledge comparisons.
After visiting a Samsung Experience Store first-hand, I can say this: the store certainly has a lot of similarities with an Apple store but at the same time feels decidedly “Samsung.” Yes, the employees all have blue shirts on, similar to what you’d see at an Apple store. Yes, the products are all laid out on tables similar to how you’d see at an Apple store, and yes, at the back there is a customer service station that reminds you a lot of the Genius Bar in any given Apple Store. The comparisons are obvious.
But Samsung brings in enough of its own flair to make the experience not feel so Apple-y.
The Apple Store comparisons are obvious, but make no mistake: this is not just a Samsung-branded Apple Store.
First off, the store is a lot darker than most Apple stores, with gray walls that soak up a lot of the light, which makes it feel a little cozier. I don’t know about you, but when I walk into an Apple Store, I have an instinct to leave my sunglasses on.
Secondly, there is a lot more seating in this store in comparison to what I’ve seen in most Apple stores. Samsung even has little stations set up at some of the seats which will have a smartphone and a pair of headphone attached. It seems like Samsung is really encouraging customers to come in, sit down, and just toy with things, rather than pushing them to buy.
Finally, Samsung has products that Apple just doesn’t make, like televisions and VR headsets. Those products are very prominent in the store, so it automatically feels a little different.
What can you buy and how do you buy it?
Nearly every major Samsung product was available in the store. Obviously, the Samsung Galaxy S10 and other smartphones were front-and-center, occupying the first table you see when you walk into the Samsung Experience Store.
Around the store, however, are so many other types of products. I saw headphones, laptops, tablets, wearables, computer monitors, VR headsets, home networking equipment, televisions, and so much more. The whole shop really reminds you just how massive of a portfolio Samsung has.
Everything in the store is for sale, and you can buy it from any one of the dozens of employees in blue shirts. However, there wasn’t much pressure from the employees to sell — as I mentioned earlier, Samsung is really focusing on helping people try the products, not trying to push them to buy one.
The shop has the Samsung Galaxy S10 on display, which you can try out and then pre-order right at the store.
If you do want to buy something — like a smartphone, for example — you have multiple options. You can buy your smartphone unlocked which is a very straightforward process. However, you can also buy your smartphone from your specific carrier at the Samsung Experience Store, making the place a one-stop-shop for everything.
For example, let’s say you wanted to buy a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and attach it to your existing Verizon account. The Samsung employees can get you all set up with everything, saving you the hassle of buying the phone there and then going to Verizon to activate it for service.
According to the reps I talked to, this service is currently available for Verizon and Sprint, with T-Mobile and AT&T support coming soon.
What additional perks are there to the store?
Quite possibly the coolest thing going on in the store is the customer service section.
I know that sounds like a weird thing to say, but stay with me for a moment.
The Samsung Experience Store finally brings Samsung fans something they have always wanted: a place to go to get same-day repairs and technical support for their Samsung products.
According to the reps I talked with at the customer service counter, they are able to perform same-day smartphone repairs on nearly every Galaxy device launched after the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. That means if you own a Samsung smartphone released over the past four years, you can get it repaired at an authorized facility using real Samsung parts in only a matter of hours.
And yes, that includes fixing cracked displays.
The customer service booth offers same-day repairs for nearly every Galaxy device released over the past four years.
This repair service is something Apple users have been taking for granted for years, but something Samsung users — and most Android users in general — have desperately wanted. Yes, there are plenty of third-party companies out there that will repair your phone for you, but this is different: this is the OEM fixing the phone it sold you.
If there’s nothing physically wrong with your phone but you need help with a software issue or need to learn how to use one of its features, customer service can help you with that as well.
On the other side of the store is another station called Personalization. In this area, you can have your Samsung-branded accessories — such as smartphone cases — engraved and personalized for free. You don’t even have to buy it from the store: Samsung will personalize whatever you’ve got without charge, assuming that it was created by Samsung.
Unfortunately, the station does not engrave actual devices, just cases and holders.
Do the employees know what they’re talking about?
It’s likely happened to many of you: you’re in an electronics store and have a question, but you find you already know more than the clerk does about the products. There’s nothing more aggravating (while also making you feel kind of cool).
At this particular store, I was pretty impressed with the knowledge the employees had about the various products on offer. I tried to stump a few of them but they came right back with the right answers. The only time I did stump someone, he simply turned to another employee right behind him who knew the answer right off the top of their head. It was very impressive.
Every employee I interacted with was friendly, courteous, and knew a lot about the products on offer.
Additionally, every employee I talked with or saw interacting with other customers were so nice. I know it’s opening day at a flagship store so everyone is on their best behavior, but it really was refreshing to see all the employees having a lot of fun interacting with customers and being excited about the products.
It did seem like there were too many employees in the store, though. I can imagine Samsung will likely have to cull some of the workforce when the excitement of the new property dies down a bit. I saw quite a few large groups of employees who seemed to have nothing to do. However, that’s certainly better than not having enough employees.
Samsung Experience Store: You will want one in your mall
It took me a little over two hours to drive from my house to the Samsung Experience Store on Long Island. Obviously, that’s not going to work out for me to visit it on a regular basis.
When I left the store though, I couldn’t help but think that I wanted one to come closer to my home. It was a cool place to go and test out new gadgets, and having one nearby would make me feel more secure about purchasing a Samsung product knowing I could get fast, knowledgeable support for that product any time I needed it.
Not to mention, being able to play with the Samsung Galaxy S10 over two weeks before it will see a general release was certainly really cool.
All in all, the Samsung store felt like a polished product, not at all like the first of its kind. Obviously, this isn’t Samsung’s first time developing a retail presence, and it’s clearly put all of what it’s learned into this store.
Enjoy the rest of the photos I took of the Samsung Experience Store in the gallery above. Feel free to hit up the comments with any questions you might have!
NEXT: Samsung Galaxy S10 price, release date, and availability