Something strange happened earlier today: Global electronics-manufacturing giant Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (KRX:005930) announced an agreement to install autonomous stores in 1,400 Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) locations, and not a peep of the huge announcement had previously been leaked. What’s most curious is the fact that a rising and respected company like Samsung would partner with an utter basket case like Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY).
It probably goes without saying that this could end up being a huge coup for Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) — it’s the best-performing stock on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) today, up almost 13% at the time of writing. One of the biggest challenges for any brick-and-mortar retail company is simply getting customers in the front door. The theory is that once they’re inside, the chances they’ll actually make a purchase can be directly influenced by the store itself through merchandising and/or customer service.
But for Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY), getting people to visit its stores and consummate a purchase has become increasingly difficult over the past few years. With regard to the former, shopping at a waning retailer simply isn’t what it used to be, as both the physical upkeep and particularly the customer service at Best Buy leave a lot to be desired. The latter is a challenge because the customers that traffic the store are often simply using it as a showroom for products they’ll later purchase for a substantial discount on Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN).
Consequently, if the new Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (KRX:005930) Experience Shops are able to attract a crowd, half of Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY)’s battle is done. And the other half, moreover, could be bolstered by the Korean company as well, given that Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (KRX:005930) will both staff and train the “shop-in-shop” employees. This is assuming that the influence flows from Samsung’s employees to Best Buy’s, and not the other way around.
The success of the partnership on Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (KRX:005930)’s end, however, is less certain. In any case, there’s no question that it’s a relatively cheap and easy way to quickly build a formidable retail presence in the United States to rival Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) .
As anyone who’s been in an Apple store can attest, that segment of the company’s operations has been an enormous success. At present, Apple operates roughly 400 stores around the world. It earns a staggering $6,050 per square foot, according to data from RetailSails.com. By comparison, Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF), the runner-up in this regard, earns only $3,017 per square foot. And in the most recently completed fiscal quarter, an estimated 121 million customers walked through its front doors.