Monday, April 11, 2011

Is Best Buy the best buy? And what is best?

A local paper, the Riverside Press-Enterprise, has run an article about recent changes in Best Buy. The article notes the problem:

Best Buy has ... lost customers to Apple,, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp., say analysts.

So how will they gain them back? One way is to redesign their stores:

[N]ew test locations in Pittsburgh and Las Vegas are less cluttered and bear more than a passing resemblance to Apple Inc.'s retail minimalism.

Another way is to retrain their sales staff:

Floor walkers have been retrained to show shoppers how gadgets work together, a concept Dunn calls the "connected store."

A third way is to offer services that their competitors cannot:

Best Buy aims to sell add-ons Wal-Mart and Costco don't offer, including extended warranties, digital content streamed to devices and remote home-monitoring and repair, says Mike Vitelli, co-chief of the North American division.

While Vitelli isn't exactly accurate on this - I am typing this on a computer which had a Costco extended warranty (and which was fixed under that warranty) - it is most certainly true that Costco and Wal-Mart don't have the staff to offer intensive help with product purchases. But if your store has a Geek Squad or a Genius Bar, perhaps you have more of a chance of snaring certain types of customers.
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