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Best Buy Takes Cue from CE Pros, Focuses on Connectivity

Just days after CE pros present streaming media strategies at EHX, Best Buy announces 'Connected Store' concept. Coincidence?


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Sell the content, not the devices! That was the lesson of our streaming media panel discussion during EHX - The CE Pro Event in Orlando, Fla.

The gist? When someone walks into your shop looking for a TV, the first questions shouldn’t be: What size? What resolution? What brand? It should be: What do you watch?

This will help the dealer create a personal relationship with the customer and open the door to more sales.

You don’t need tons of TVs and components to clutter your shop (and your message). You just need some technical expertise and the willingness to connect with customers.

That is the very premise behind the new Connected Source concept to be implemented by hundreds of dealers who are part of the Home Entertainment Source/ProSource group.

Chad Evans from ProSource presented the merchandising strategy for Connected Source during the EHX panel: Keep the product offerings spare and the connectivity message strong. Lo and behold, just days after the presentation, Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) announces a re-design of its stores to focus on content and connectivity.

Coincidence?

The retailer has announced a major reorganization of its stores to showcase “retail minimalism,” according to Bloomberg: “Floor walkers have been retrained to show shoppers how gadgets work together - a concept [CEO Brian] Dunn calls the ‘connected store.’”

Bloomberg describes the new scene:

Store No. 584 in the Pittsburgh suburb of North Fayette, Pennsylvania, provides a glimpse of Best Buy’s new direction. Gone are the tall enclosing shelves that have long typified the stores. Instead, a range of gadgets—from tablets to cameras to digital photo frames—are displayed on low tables. Shoppers get there via “the runway,” a stretch of blue tile leading from the front doors through the center of the store.

Saturday Workshops

As few as half of the store’s employees were trained to sell gadgets storewide. Now most are trained to sell across all categories. On Saturdays the store holds workshops. In one, a staffer demonstrates how to wirelessly display a photo on a TV.

“It used to be I could say, ‘This Blu-ray player can connect to the Internet and it can do Pandora and Netflix,’” said Mark Staub, a Pittsburgh store employee who oversees the displays of connected devices. “Now I can say, ‘Hey, let’s walk back there and I can show you how to do this.’”

Will it work? Bloomberg quotes analyst Michael Pachter, who says, “Their solution may be good for 2011 but will be irrelevant by 2014. Technology is going to pass them by like they’re standing still.”

Eyal Kattan of Media Nexus, an integrator who also presented at EHX, agrees with the analyst:

“I think wholesalers such as Costco and Wal-Mart, as well as online sellers such as Amazon, are going to be on the rise while Best Buy is phasing out or downsizing,” he says. “I am just wondering how Mr. Dunn is going to train all of his ‘unknowledgeable’ store employees and make them knowledgeable enough overnight.”

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Learn more sales strategies for streaming content and connectivity at CE Pro Live, the virtual trade show, May 25, 2011.



  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]

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