Samsung Loves the Channel: Loyalty Program, Control4 Integration, CalMAN Calibration

Samsung outlines ‘clear commitment’ to CE pro channel with loyalty rewards program, Control4 system integration with TVs/Blu-ray player, and built-in CalMAN calibration at CEDIA 2017.

Joe Palenchar

Samsung will continue to expand its custom installation-channel support with additional programs that underscore the company’s “recommitment to the channel,” says Phil Cohn, senior vice president of go-to-market sales for Samsung Electronics America. The company wants to “send the message that we are the right company to partner with for the long term,” Cohn told CE Pro.

Changes got underway late last year and were followed up with other initiatives earlier this year. At CEDIA 2017, the company will take it a step further with such initiatives as a “reward-based loyalty program” for select installers, integration of 4K Ultra HD TVs and a 4K Blu-ray player with the IP-control systems of multiple home-control vendors, and automated CalMAN picture calibration enabled in the 2017 QLED Samsung 4K TVs to speed up calibration time.

For installers on the go, the company is moving its installer-focused CMS (Content Management System) to the web from an applet on a USB-stick for easier access from whatever mobile device is on hand, including a smartphone.

All of the new initiatives are wrapped up in what Samsung calls its 5-Star Solutions program, with the stars being products, new partnerships (with Portrait Displays’ CalMAN and IP-based control-system suppliers), resources, support and the new sales program, called Path to Platinum.

Leading Up to CEDIA 2017

The latest announcements follow other CI initiatives, including the addition of more regional distributors within key metro areas to “expand points of contact” and enable installers to pick up products more quickly from closer distributor locations, said Cohn, who joined Samsung in February. The change will give custom integrators “more accessibility to inventory when and how they need it,” a spokesman added.

“There is clearly a commitment to this channel that might not have been as comprehensive as in the past.”

— Phil Cohn, Samsung

Samsung also restructured internal resources to create a dedicated CI sales team “to make sure installers are getting an elevated level of support from our employees,” Cohn said. And in the past six months, Samsung has “engaged more deeply with HTSA, Pro, Azione, and AVAD” to support integrators, he added.

Installers “will see at the show that there is clearly a commitment to this channel that might not have been as comprehensive as in the past,” Cohn said, pointing in part to retooled marketing materials, tech support, and field support along with IP integration.

“The foundation of this year’s program is to provide custom dealers with a broader level of support to meet their client’s needs,” a spokesman added. “Our sales team works closely with Ci dealers to ensure they are on the best program for their business.”

The enhanced support coincides with the company’s rollout of QLED 4K UltraHD TVs, whose quantum dots use a new metal alloy to deliver peak brightness up to 2,000nits, 100 percent P3 color volume, color saturation that doesn’t drop as brightness goes up, and more stable color representation at wider off-axis viewing angles. All of the company’s 4K TVs also feature new dynamic-metadata HDR10+ technology.

Also appearing at the show are the company’s current two Frame TVs. All display art work and photos and can be mounted on the wall. Installers “see the Frame TVs as an expansion to their business,” Cohn says.

Phil Cohn, senior VP, Samsung

The 55-inch $1,999 Frame TV comes with optional $199 bezel, and the $2,799 65-inch model comes with optional $249 bezel, each bezel available in white, beige and walnut shades of wood. Details of a new 43-inch model were unavailable. The Frame TVs come with included zero-gap wall-mount bracket, and they can be placed on Samsung’s Studio Stand, which looks like an artist’s easel.

Partners Include Control4, CalMAN

Among its new partnerships, Samsung is touting IP control through key home-control systems and automated CalMAN calibration.

Initially the company is supporting IP control in its entire line of 2017 4K Ultra HD models and in the new UBD-M9700 UHD BD player. These products integrate via IP with all major control systems, including Control4, Samsung said.

“The IP-command support is comprehensive and includes discrete commands for launching the leading streaming-content services [without any lag time], plus complete Smart Hub control,” a spokesman said.

“With IP control and drivers that support auto-discovery and [Control4] SDDP, configuration time is dramatically reduced,” he continued. “This is really helpful when the installer has to set up hundreds of devices on a network. “ Much less cabling is also involved because command signals and A/V are able to pass over IP, he adds.

Samsung's new QLED 4K TVs will have built-in CalMAN calibration software for integrators, reducing time by 80% from manual calibration.

With its 2017 QLED 4K TVs, Samsung speeds up installers’ work flow in another way: by automating 4K HDR calibration and reducing it to 1/5th the time of manual calibration, the spokesman said. “CalMAN with AutoCal communicates directly with the TV with little human intervention,” he continues.

“Calibration still requires a connection to a PC running CalMAN software, but now it bypasses the TV’s OSD steps and directly adjusts color, white balance and other picture quality parameters automatically,” the spokesman continued. “You do need a colorimeter that connects to the PC to make the measurements needed to make the adjustments, but it’s a significantly faster operation.”

Sales Loyalty Rewards Program

To incentivize installers to spec Samsung products more often, the company will outline its Path to Platinum reward-based loyalty program, which will be available to a select number of certified installers that meet program requirements, Cohn said. Details will be announced at the show.

The program is the company’s most comprehensive sales program targeted direct to installers. Samsung will continue to collaborate with individual distributors to give them the flexibility to develop programs that “they feel will support their customer,” Cohn adds.

To enhance its on-line custom integration resource center, Samsung made it web-based for greater accessibility, not just through laptops but now also through smartphones.

“The CMS content management system was an app-based resource designed to download content from our portal to a USB [which launched the app]. It was designed to support updates for the on-the-go installer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” the spokesman explains.

Downloads from the portal include firmware updates, RS-232 codes, VESA specs and mechanical drawings, and CAD drawings of most models to determine if a Samsung product physically fits into a custom install. Samsung has also added spec sheets, marketing materials such as comparison charts, and other tools, including a list of tech-support hot lines.