Sony to Add Retail Stores to Make Shopping Easier

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Sony has announced plans to add retail outlets in 10 markets over the next several months. The plan is similar to the stores Apple has rolled out. Sony can only hope they’re as successful as Apple, rather than following the footsteps of the Gateway Country Stores.


Sony already has large Sony Style stores in New York and San Francisco and smaller operations in Chicago, Southern California and Boston (opening in May). Their motive is to pretty much have one of everything on display, but they will stock very little product. Instead the stores will act more like a showroom than a retail store. This move will certainly ease concerns from their retail partners where Sony derives most of their income.


Apple s effort has be a huge success, largely because they ve created a fun environment with knowledgeable and passionate sales staff. palmOne is leveraging a similar concept in a handful of malls across the country, but as many of our editors found out, their staff was composed mainly of Radio Shack and office store former employees who didn t have a very in-depth knowledge of the product line.


One of the most difficult problems with buying new electronics or computer gear is that most stores don t have the product in stock or even on display. And testing something like a notebook or PDA in a pinned down enclosure substantially detracts from the overall experience. A PDA might look great in the store, but how does it feel in the pocket? The same thing goes for a notebook how am I supposed to know how heavy it really is if I can only raise it an inch without hitting the restraint? Forgot about trying to view the screen in alternate lighting conditions and working with the unit undisturbed for a while.


The point is, Sony may be right on with this concept. Set the stores up like showrooms where customers can leisurely browse the product line and discuss features with educated sales staff when they re ready. If buyers decide they want a Sony product, there may be stock available, if not, they ll be directed to the nearest Best Buy, Circuit City or other authorized Sony retailer. Sony hasn t made their list of cities official yet, but assume they ll start at the top of the most populated areas list and move down.



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