retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Bloomberg reports that Best Buy's "quarterly financial results Tuesday were downright Amazon-like: consecutive quarters of double-digit online sales growth. Hot new products including virtual-reality headsets and techie watches. Words like 'exploration' and 'experimentation.' Gone were the store-closing announcements of quarters past, along with talk of bad weather or other tired excuses for why consumers aren’t shopping (many of which we’ve heard from Target, Macy’s and other retailers in recent weeks)."

The story notes that Best Buy is benefitting from the weakness of some competitors, as well as the closing of its own underperforming stores, and "looks like it’s finally learning a thing or two from some of its biggest vendors, such as Apple. On Tuesday it outlined a series of pilot programs that sounded Apple-like, including classes on Wi-Fi use and digital photography.

"Another initiative pulls a page from former Apple store mastermind Ron Johnson’s new startup, Enjoy, which sells high-end consumer electronics online but provides free in-home installation and setup. Best Buy said it’s testing a similar in-home adviser program, as well as on-demand, same-day services for those who need immediate tech help.  Perhaps more important, it has plunged resources into a more-streamlined online checkout process, faster shipping and better website features such as consumer reviews and product recommendations."

While Best Buy may be coming to some of these innovations a little later than companies such as Apple and Amazon, Bloomberg writes that "it seems Best Buy has finally realized it’s 2016."
KC's View:
Interestingly, the Star Tribune has a story about how Best Buy is testing a new concept called Best Buy Tech Home in the Mall of America, described as a way of "showcasing some of the latest technology it sells in a house of sorts ... Inside are several rooms - a kitchen, living room, office and bedroom - outfitted with smart products. The idea is to show consumers how doorbells, lights, music, home security and even refrigerators can be controlled from a smartphone or tablet and how it could make their lives easier or better."

This is just an example of how companies need to consistently innovate and test new ideas, lest they end up like Howard Johnson's, A&P, Kmart and other retailers of that ilk.