In Minnesota, the Star Tribune reports that Best Buy is testing a new store concept - a 45,000 square foot unit called a Connected Store that has "some notable additions aimed to engage customers: a Genius Bar-like tech support center, employees with advice on pricey stoves, and rooms where home theater geeks can design their ultimate man caves."
According to the story, "Connected Stores form the heart of Best Buy's strategy to reduce its square footage in favor of smaller stores that emphasize high-end service. Best Buy plans to close 50 big boxes across the country by the end of the year and open 100 smaller-format Best Buy Mobile and 50 Connected stores. The scaled-down concepts typically range from 30,000 to 45,000 square feet compared with 58,000 square feet for the traditional big box.
"Best Buy, which is now testing Connected Stores in the Twin Cities and San Antonio, expects the format not only to retain the shoppers but to attract new customers, especially ones willing to go premium. In doing so, the company can offset some of the lost sales and profits from the traditional big boxes that will close."
The goal, Best Buy says, is to create an environment that demonstrates to shoppers how technology intersects with and can change their lives, creating a contextual experience in which to showcase high-end gadgets ... which, the company hopes, will help to fight the "showrooming" trend of people looking at products in brick-and-mortar stores and then buying them online.
Give Best Buy credit. Over the years, the company has tried a wide variety of formats as it looks for the next great brick-and-mortar concept. Remember the games-oriented store they tried in Chicago? And the women-oriented format that it opened in the suburbs somewhere?
They haven't worked. But you have to keep doing these things, have to keep innovating, if you want to stay relevant. So give Best Buy credit for that.