Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Retail woes

Best Buy has been blaming its problems on showrooming. My feeling is that it’s a little more than that. I remember when the Dell, Gateway, and so on used to brag that there was no longer any need to go to a store to buy a computer. The Internet would allow customization and customers would be willing to buy electronics sight unseen. How far we’ve come since those days. Dell and Gateway are reeling - in fact Gateway is no longer selling computers online at last check.

The Internet drove prices down and computers and perhaps electronics in general have become very commoditized but it remains true that we still want to see what we are getting. I go to Best Buy more than I probably should but my recent experiences have left me wondering if there is any hope for specialty big box store such as Best Buy.

  1. I ordered something online and got an email to go pick it up at the store I chose. Except when I got there they couldn’t find the item! Inventory control seems a little out of control.
  2. The store layout is confusing and I can hardly find anything. I was looking for a no contract broadband and I expect it to be with the phones and wireless carriers but it isn’t there.
  3. DVDs and Blu-ray selections are fairly good but could be improved - again things seem to be arranged according to the middle word of the movie title or something like that.
  4. In general, selection isn’t great. I went to get new speakers for the computer but all they had were two or three models. With that much space I expect a better selection. The aisles are fairly wide and I see a lot of room for more stuff - again I expect that this really is an inventory control problem which has carried into the floor.
I can’t help but compare Best Buy to Apple stores although I don’t think that its the way for Best Buy to go. In general I think they need to enhance the shopping experience rather than to retain the warehouse feeling that seemed cool back in the 90s and early 2000.

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