Q&A: How Samsung Is Redefining the Modern Retail Experience

eTail West kicks off in less than a month and as we glanced over the agenda, one presentation in particular caught our attention. Meet Zach Overton, Vice President of Consumer Experience and General Manager of Samsung’s flagship store, 837.

Zach Overton's headshotZach’s team is revolutionizing the way consumers interact with Samsung’s technology. Located in the Meatpacking District in New York City, Samsung 837 is a beautiful extension of their innovative and design-centric culture, fully immersing the public in the local culture, while connecting them to a lifestyle that is powered by Samsung technology.

We couldn’t wait until eTail West to learn about Samsung 837, so we connected with Zach to hear more.

Be sure to check out Zach’s presentation at eTail West on February 27th at 1:55 pm. Full details here.

Mobify: When launching Samsung 837, how did you change the customer’s mind around what a storefront is for?

Zach Overton: Samsung is an innovation company, it’s in our DNA, so when we went to launch our first flagship, we wanted to think through that same lens of innovation. Samsung 837 is not a traditional retail store, the focus is exploration and discovery.  We have reimagined it to be more like a playground where people can connect with our technology and signature services in an interactive and immersive way.

Through diverse programming, such as live concerts, fashion shows, cooking demos or virtual reality experiences, we’re able to educate consumers on our products and services in a way that is contextually relevant and entertaining. It allows us to create unique use cases for demonstrating how Samsung devices enhance their everyday lives.

We prioritize interaction above transaction and have found that when we remove the pressure to purchase, customers spend more time with our technology, our staff, and the space. This allows us to build an authentic, two-way conversation with them.

M: How are you using customer feedback?

ZO: We’ve moved from thinking in terms of a “purchase funnel” to an infinity loop – understanding that we’re an ecosystem brand and we lean into the fact that consumer engagement doesn’t end at purchase. Rather, that’s the end of the beginning. The next phases of onboarding, education, and care are almost more important.

We’re also moving from a reactive to a proactive approach to consumer engagement and customer care. Given that 80% of U.S. adults own or have owned 1 or more Samsung products, we think holistically about our engagement approach to deliver value across our ecosystem of connected devices.

For example, when a visitor schedules a service appointment at 837 and is waiting for their turn at the care counter, we offer them a 1:1 tutorial with different products on display, or give them a loaner device with our user journey app, Explore 837, installed to gamify their experience as they explore the space.

We take the lifetime value of a customer very seriously and think about how their visit to 837 is an opportunity to show them how to better use their phone and features they may not know about, but also show them home entertainment or home appliances – enabling us to hit all of our KPIs.

Also, we’re able to reward Samsung owners for their loyalty by providing them with exclusive access to celebrity talent through our partnerships, programming and evergreen offerings, as well as drive brand affinity with non-owners who attend 837 events.

Lastly, our Marketing Center of Excellence sits atop 837, allowing our marketing team to  observe and engage with our visitors, getting real time insights into what’s resonating and what’s not. We truly leverage 837 as a living lab to test and iterate before rolling initiatives out on a wider scale.

M: How do you measure the success of Samsung 837? Is it still tied to traditional revenue metrics?

ZO: That’s a question I get pretty frequently, but we measure success like any other marketing initiative: we set KPIs. We look at foot traffic, device interactions, and content scale as well as purchase intent, NPS (Net Promoter Score), and other traditional marketing metrics. The numbers so far have been incredibly encouraging.

Our non-traditional approach changes the typical visitor dynamic. We see longer dwell time, an increased likelihood to engage with our staff, and an eagerness to participate in multiple brand touch points.

We now interact with thousands of people per week and have had hundreds of thousands of people come through our doors. The average 837 guest interacts with more than five Samsung products with each visit. We’ve hosted more than 700 events with 3.5 million product interactions across our ecosystem of devices including phones, tablets, home appliances, and home entertainment. Consumers visiting the space are also sharing their experience on social media and are nearly twice as likely to do so during programming events. Six out of 10 guests are posting on their social channels during their time at 837.

Our trial program allows consumers to experience our entire suite of devices without purchasing them upfront. This has led to authentic, user-generated content and higher conversions because of the consumer excitement that is shared by word-of-mouth.

Through our programming, we have been able to reach different audiences and engage with both current Samsung owners and non-Samsung-owners alike. Our cultural programming includes public events such as concerts, and has provided us with the opportunity to bring non-owners into 837. Our evergreen programming, such as our Customer care center and VR installations are aimed at attracting brand loyalists and allows us to deepen our relationships and increase their brand loyalty and, ultimately, their lifetime value.

To date, these engagement touchpoints have increased brand opinion among 94% of walk-in visitors to 837 and 83% of consumers who attend an 837 event. They are also increasing “pride to own” among Samsung customers and purchase intent across all our product categories – among current owners and non-owners alike.

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