Consumers Just Want to Have Fun
Sony Style stores, which at press time numbered 15, have a concierge at the front door to greet customers, ask questions and direct them to specific areas of the store and/or staff. Professional sales counselors, personal in-home delivery services and custom installation support provide shoppers with additional personalized service. Sony Style stores are also Wi-Fi enabled with internet access. "We teach people how to use our products," notes Cohen.
The stores themselves are small and intimate—approximately 6,000 square feet—and visually inviting. Inside, there are little sections, like the home theater area, that emulate an actual living room with a couch, chairs and ottomans. Here, consumers can demo one to three televisions and a few different home audio systems. The difference between this design and a big-box store is the customer isn't looking at 30 televisions; they're looking at three. "We don't have a huge inventory in the stores because they are fairly small," says Cohen. "So if we don't have whatever product a customer is looking for, we'll recommend they go to the nearest Best Buy or Circuit City. We're not looking to compete with our dealers."
Sony Style stores are located in upscale, suburban fashion malls because the company is interested in appealing to women and families. "In fact, we purposely made the aisles very wide to accommodate strollers. We also have PlayStations set up so kids can play at a console while their parents shop. People come in and hang out; it's really nice. Consumers seem really excited about the concept stores," states Cohen, who notes the Houston, Texas store had 10,000 visitors in its first two days.