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domjuan
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Where Best Buy Beats Amazon

Where Best Buy Beats Amazon


By Quentin Fottrell

Best Buy continues to lose ground to Amazon and other online retailers, experts say, even though the big-box chain sometimes boasts better prices.



The company reported a 25% drop in earnings last quarter Tuesday, noting particularly weak sales of notebooks, gaming products, cameras and televisions. Interim CEO G. Mike Mikan says Best Buy can combat showrooming – when shoppers peruse at the store and then buy online — by upgrading its stores. “I know there are skeptics out there, I see the share price,” he told an investor conference call. “But I am confident we will prove the skeptics wrong.”

The chain’s solution to showrooming so far seems to be steeper discounts, experts say. People who buy online may now be paying a premium for the convenience of not getting off the couch, says Dan de Grandpre, editor of retail aggregator DealNews.com. In the past six months, DealNews.com listed 228 product deals sold by Best Buy. In those cases, “Best Buy had a lower price on that item than Amazon or any other reputable merchant,” he says. These include deals on everything from digital cameras to gaming consoles, he says. Of course, that’s not always the case, especially on big-ticket items, experts say. (Neither company responded to requests for comment.)

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And even when Best Buy beats the competition on price, the chain doesn’t always offer the best merchandise, experts say. Given the weak sales, the store tends to stock older, unsold gadgets for longer, says Mark Walters, manager of business development for TechBargains.com.

That said, when prices are equal, it can makes sense to buy some products in person, if only to test them. Large items like TVs are also better to buy in-store because of installation issues, the risk of damage in shipping and ease of return to a local store, Walters says. Physical stores also tend to be superior to online outlets when it comes to customer service and tech support, Walters says. The “Genius Bar” at Apple stores raised customer expectations, he says, putting pressure on Best Buy to improve its tech-support “Geek Squad.” Mikan told investors that the company is working to better train the “Geek Squad” to speak with “more authority” on technical issues.



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Problem with Best Buy is that consumers are starting to catch on that they jack their prices on most items. If their prices were in line with online stores and they didn't try to up-sell you on various additional services (that are a rip-off), maybe they could compete. They should try to do more volume and not give their sales staff any incentive to sell something at a higher price. Furthermore, they should have a sample of whatever is the latest and greatest gear in store, without actually having to have it in stock. People are ok with waiting a few days to receive something if they're gonna buy it online anyhow. anything that best buy doesn't have, they should be willing to at least match any online price, since they can get it wholesale at the same or better price than the on-line store they're competing with. Better to make barely any profit or even no profit on an item if it means they've now won the loyalty of another customer. That customer will be back to buy more stuff later and might not care to bother with checking on-line if they trust best Buy's prices.



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