CE Vendors Look To Open Brand Stores In OZ

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Several big consumer electronic vendors have told SmartHouse they are looking to open their own retail shops in Australia following the success of the Apple’s stores, which have reported an 80% jump in revenues during the past 12 months.

Last week Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, said that they will open 75 stores within three years, expanding a retail effort to promote products directly to consumers, chief operating officer Kevin Turner said.

On Friday Smarthouse spoke to Lambro Skropidis, Samsung Electronics Australia’s Head of Corporate Marketing as he toured a Samsung shop in Korea. Last week Apple said that sales via their Apple stores rose by $4.6 billion, an 80% jump over the same period last year. Sales of the Australian stores are not broken out separately.

Microsoft began opening stores in the USA in 2009, some of them near Apple stores, to showcase merchandise and control how it is sold. The retail expansion shows Microsoft is willing to invest a “significant amount of money” to counter Apple’s successful retail efforts, said Wes Miller, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft.

The CEO of one major vendor said “It is a delicate issue. On one hand we want to give consumers the choice of visiting a corporate store to get an overview of a product or service. The tricky issue is whether we take orders and sell a product similar to what Apple does. We do not want to take business away from retailers but if you look at what Apple have done it has not impacted retailer store sales” they said.

They added “JB Hi Fi openly talk about the success of their Apple sales operation. For us it is a case of overcoming a lot of the training issues that we have with retailers. We often get complaints about the level of service and above all the lack of product knowledge by staff working in retail stores. With a corporate store we can train staff to talk about a product or service knowing that they are delivering the right information. I believe that a corporate store will work; the issue is the cost of operation Vs the return on investment which is the issue that several brands are struggling with at the moment”.

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