Sony is to open its 11th and 12th US stores this month as part of a strategy to appeal to women. It expects to have about 30 stores in the US by April 2006.
This marks a turnaround in Sony's store philosophy. The new stores will be a departure from the style of its larger stores – currently in New York and San Francisco. They will be based in "ritzy" shopping malls and will be designed to appeal to women.
According to an Associated Press report, the new storefronts sit next to Tiffany, Louis Vuitton, Sephora and other boutiques that appeal to women.
Vice president of Sony Style Retail Dennis Syracuse (who previously worked in women's fashion) has researched how women shop. As a result of his insight every Sony store will have a concierge desk to greet shoppers, because company research suggested the feature appeals to women.
Other features geared to a female audience include aisles that are wide enough for pushchairs and televisions are perched on different stands, rather than in rows at the same height – to give shoppers a better sense of how they will look in their living rooms.
In much the same way as Apple resellers reacted to Apple's plans to open its own stores, retailers that sell Sony products are expressing concerns that they will not be able to compete with Sony.
Ken Cranes Home Electronics VP Tom Campbell told AP: "We're going to watch very closely what they do with these stores. The manufacturer is becoming a potential competitor."
Abt Electronics president Mike Abt said: "We want our vendor to be a vendor, not a retail competitor."
Apple has opened 84 stores in the US since 2001.