March 30, 2012

Bricks 'n Clicks: Best Buy

Today, we learn that Best Buy, the king of "Bricks 'n Clicks", is shuttering stores and laying off staff (click here please).

Here's what is amazing. We somehow could envision a world where a customer would sit at home, view product on a laptop, then do the hard work to get in a car, drive fifteen miles to a store, and purchase the product with sales tax.  Yet we could not envision a world where a customer would do the hard work to get in a car, drive fifteen miles to a store, view a product and price it with sales tax, then order it online sans sales tax.

How did we miss that one?  It makes perfect sense.

We could argue that Wal-Mart and/or Costco are mulching Best Buy as well, that may or may not be true.  We could argue that some Best Buy employees feel less-than-enthusiastic about their jobs (click here).  Both may or may not be the cause of struggles at Best Buy.

We do know this:
  1. Experts claim that a Multichannel Bricks 'n Clicks strategy is the secret to success.
  2. Experts claim that a sound Social Media strategy is key to success (i.e. Best Buy Twelpforce).
  3. Best Buy, employing a Multichannel Bricks 'n Clicks strategy paired with a sound Social Media strategy, a previously successful business, is now trimming stores and laying off employees and is routinely posting negative comp store sales.
Maybe this matters.
  • Product > Service > Pricing > Multi-Channel > Social Media
Think for a moment about what Best Buy sells.
  • Could I buy the same item on Amazon and save $$$ on sales tax?
  • Could I buy the same item anywhere on the internet and save time and not pay sales tax?
  • Could I buy a Verizon phone at a Verizon store and maybe get better service?
  • Could I buy an Apple iPad at an Apple Store and have a better experience?
Now, I'm not saying this to beat up on Best Buy, that wouldn't be fair.  You'd have to run a large company to understand how hard it is to navigate a giant brand through an ever-changing world ... it isn't easy, and the people who work at Best Buy are undoubtedly "not stupid".  If you disagree, go find an Executive position at a large retail brand, and report back to me in five years with your experiences!!

But I will be critical of online pundits, folks who don't have skin in the game, folks who have never had the opportunity to work in retail for a decade or more, folks who tell "brands" what to do without having data to prove a hypothesis.

Multichannel and Social Media are lower on the food chain than are unique product, customer service, and pricing concerns.  Apple has unique product and a stunning in-store customer experience.  Nordstrom sells the same stuff everybody else sells, but offers legendary customer service.  Amazon has low prices and no sales tax.  Best Buy sells what everybody else sells with competent customer service and competitive pricing.

Which leads one to the following question:
  • "Why would you buy something at Best Buy?"
I ask the question because every business should ask this question.  If we consider it through the eyes of Best Buy, maybe the question is less threatening than if asked directly of each of us for the businesses we work for.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:32 PM

    Because when they give you three years same as cash on their card interest free, you would be a fool not to purchase anything over $300 and use their money.


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