Samsung's first Australian concept store was in a prime Sydney CBD location. Its second is in a suburban shopping centre the locals have nicknamed 'Knifepoint'. Yet despite the risky neighbourhood, the store in the Highpoint shopping is twice the size of its Sydney predecessor, and more than twice as impressive. Just don't compare it to McDonald's.
Details of Samsung's Melbourne store first leaked in January, and today saw the store opening. Why Maribyrnong? The official Samsung line is that Melbourne customers had been vocal in their demands for a store. The fact that Highpoint was opening a new wing arguably played a more important role.
The larger scale allows Samsung to incorporate more of its TV and audio gear, which is a clear distinction point compared to similarly-sized Apple stores. Most everything with a Samsung brand on sale in Australia is on display, though 'hero products' from the phone and tablet range dominate the entrance, while cameras and PCs are relegated further back. An enormous wall of accessories is likely to be a steady source of revenue. "It's amazing how many people buy not just one accessory but two when they buy a product," Samsung Australian telecommunications VP Tyler McGee. s New features in the Melbourne store include NFC touchpoints for some devices; tap a Samsung phone on the NFC and it will display a list of notable features. Good to see someone using NFC for anything, really. In the 'Galaxy Studio' area, you can even have a Samsung mug printed with your face on it.
If you're not in the mood to spend, there are areas where you can charge your device, and free in-store Wi-Fi. Training courses are also offered, and there's a sit-down lounge if you want to sign up for a phone plan. You can distract the bratlings with a dedicated Kids Zone area.
Samsung remains tight-lipped about future store plans, though it seems safe to say an expansion even on the relatively modest scale of the Apple store is not on the cards. "This is not going to be a McDonald's-style rollout," McGee told Lifehacker. Sheer demographics would suggest that the Brisbane/Gold Coast area would make sense as the next destination. Anything would be an improvement on the Robinvale dump where Apple opened its first store.
Disclosure: Angus Kidman travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Samsung.