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Best Buy Sick of Second Best
By: Michael Lindquist
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The first-quarter numbers are in, but Best Buy desperately needs to do better to avoid crumbling altogether. Retail stores like Best Buy are in an unfortunate predicament in a day when consumers are buying most of their electronics and gadgets online. Imagine a world where you can buy a television without even putting on your pants. Once a dream for the future, online shopping has become the norm. The convenience of online shopping has crippled retail stores and made it extremely difficult to compete, but hope is not all lost. Retailers can be stubborn and continue to lose money or change their ways in order to compete. 

One element that should help retail stores is the luxury of customer service, but customers have become quite comfortable working with machines. After all, why would I listen to the high-school kid working in the electronics department at Best Buy when I have access to product reviews, expert opinions, and the ability to compare prices instantly from my computer? Ordering online can be risky. We don’t always know what we’re paying for.

Customers are not completely avoiding retail stores. “Showrooming” has been a major problem for retail stores since the beginning of online shopping. Customers research everything they can about a product, visit their local retailer to see the product up close, and then make their final decision to purchase the product. However, many of the customers leave the store empty handed and instead purchase the item online. After 7–10 business days, the transaction is complete, and Best Buy has lost another sale. 

The times, they are a changin’, so retailers are forced to find new ways to generate revenue.  There is no reason why Best Buy should take a back seat to online shopping, but sacrifices must be made. A reduction in size and staff could turn things around for Best Buy. There are tentative plans to replace large stores with little shops that feature a smaller product line and offer customer service and tech support. The new business model would focus more on online sales and cut back on bulky and expensive inventory. 

The most recent Best Buy ad has been great, and the ad made its debut during this year’s Super Bowl. The ad, featuring the great inventors of the twenty-first century who brought us the camera phone and Words With Friends, is inspiring and wonderfully done. Having said that, a great ad isn’t enough. Online shoppers have always been concerned with convenience and value. They are not brand loyal, nor do they care about good advertising. 

Best Buy has the potential to penetrate the online shopping market, but only if they completely commit to a new business model. Jobs will be lost and stores will close, but there is no reason why the Best Buy brand needs to settle for second best.

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About the Author
Michael Lindquist has a strong passion for art, entertainment, and advertising. As a child, he learned it was okay to color outside the lines, because the lines only restrict your creativity and imagination. Find him online here.
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