Best Buy has struggled the most with the new “showrooming” problem brought on by the trend towards ‘commerce anywhere.’ The concept, which describes the fact that consumers are researching items online and buying them for a lower price in-store, has been most prevalent among retailers that offer big ticket items like those playing in the consumer electronics channel.
This channel has been through a number of major phases. But Best Buy’s recent unveiling of its new ‘connected store’ concept is an attempt to prevent the same demise that Best Buy brought on Circuit City in the past 10-15 years.
Best Buy’s Connected Store
The retailer is making a bet that by slimming down and refocusing its fleet of big boxes, it can still have a long and profitable future.
The new connected store, which is being rolled out slowly, includes a number of interesting new features. However, the ‘showrooming’ problem is the central driving factor behind the new store format. I am hesitant to use a phrase that seems to be a cliché in the industry now, but Best Buy has “taken a page out of Apple’s handbook” in terms of customer service in-store. The idea is that people will be less willing to use the Best Buy store as a showroom for online players like Amazon if they have a favorable experience with a Best Buy associate.
(Above) With this in mind, Best Buy has included a Genuis Bar-like tech center called Geek Squad Solution Central, as well as a variety of signs designed to make the shopping experience as easy as possible.
While Best Buy is trying to move away from the larger, “more confusing” store format, the 45,000 square foot store in Richfield, MN is still rather sizable. However, there is a focus on customer service in every department.
Comparing the US Consumer Electronics Players
While Best Buy is still the largest consumer electronics player a decision needed to be made in order to fix the for the forcasted growth numbers shown in the right column of the chart below.