Electronics is a dirty game. I know this-trust me. The average shopper has gotten smarter and is now quipped with a powerful weapon called the smart phone that features up to the minute best-price searches in real-time. (That is studio talk for right now!)
Recordable and viewable media has faltered to the vast expanse of file swapping and streaming. There are much less collectors and less connoisseurs of entertainment products, and the cornerstone of portable media, Apple, already has their own chain of stores, and they are not likely to share in the spoils.
So, I decided to poke at a few reasons why Best Buy is faltering at the eyes of window shoppers and showroom freeloaders.
Reason 1: Stop with the fake greetings at the door at the point of entry. I hate being greeted by strangers. It’s like a fake “so glad you came in…” This is not a country inn. We all know or suspect that behind that fake smile lies a state-of-the-art joystick controlled security camera system that spies on would be shoppers browsing through the aisles.
Reason 2: Too many fucking flat screen TVs. TVs keep getting cheaper, and the technology is practically in the doldrums as of last year’s futile attempt at coercing people into buying 3-D TVs and forking over a $100 a pair for 3-D glasses for that added visual experience. Best Buy literally uses a lot of real estate to sell their TVs, and they are too saturated with them, and to top it off, they have also added an entire home theater wing to caters to the serious, more thriftier clientele. I hate to break it to you guys, but serious home theater enthusiasts don’t shop at Best Buy! Fact.
Reason 3: $40 for a fucking HDMI cable? The average Joe cares more about a reliable connection rather than superior cable quality. In other words, if it looks great and sounds great, it works. If you shop online, you can get a kick ass pair of HDMI cables for about $10, and I am being modest. (Hint: http://www.monoprice.com) You are dealing with digital, not analog. A connection either works or it doesn’t- simple. They are also exploiting the cable market by overpricing power strips, speaker wire, jacks, and other necessary peripherals by putting together these bogus HDTV kits that are a total sham. And the consumer is well aware of it.
Reason 4: If you are gonna sell appliances, hire people that know about them. Appliances are a great business, but you have to sign, seal, and deliver them without any bugs or hassles. Best Buy’s appliance department is like an appliance annex. It’s just there, and so are the salespeople. I guess they want the bragging rights, but here’s where I personally encountered a problem: I wanted to purchase an appliance that was listed on their website, in stock, and at a decent price, but when I walked in the store, the salesman had no clue about the model number, so after I showed it to him on my smartphone, he finally looked it up on their system, and to no avail, he gave me a cold definite look-over and muttered, “we don’t have it…sorry” So, I said, “when will it come back in?” ( I AM TRYING HERE !!!) He said, “It looks like a discontinued item.” I bought the “discontinued” item a week later at Sears. They had it in stock too!
Reason 5: Best Buy does not specialize in anything, but they do carry much more of it. If you are an avid collector of music or movies, Best Buy only offers slim pickings when it comes to esoteric movie titles or underground bands. Their aisles are no less informative than a Billboard top 200 chart. Currently, movies and music are shared, streamed, and downloaded, so if you want to survive, you have to appeal to the media aficionados, and they are a very, very tough crowd to please. Whenever I see a newly released title, they have about 500 copies lingering on every end-shelf display. Unfortunately, it is also the same with computer software and cell phone accessories. The more the merrier? WTF?
Reason 6: They do not invite haggling. I am an old school native New Yorker, and it just doesn’t feel like a deal unless there’s a little bargaining going on. I bought my first pair of Technics 1200’s after going around a dozen or so stores until my jaw got tired, but at the end of the day, I was incredibly happy after my hunt. Many large chain stores that offer high-priced electronics only offer “price-matching” instead of haggling, but I hate to break it to you guys, but it’s the same shit! The price-matching is another sham too. Amazon.com is a major retailer in the game and whether it’s a brick and mortar store or not, they refuse to give you the time of day when you see the same item for considerably less online. It’s your money, right?
Reason 7: They are behind the ball in their computer department. This is as plain as day if you go to a computer savvy website like Newegg or Tiger Direct. Their prices are only competitive on sale items, and they are missing the boat in the media player market. Media players are slowly going to take over the market in movie/music playing devices. The few players that are popular on the market and found in most chain stores are weak contenders when compared to the power packed models that are more format friendly. Just Google media players and you’ll see… Also, if the key to success lies in accessories, their department lacks plenty of bells and whistles. Interface cards, computer parts, and modular components are m.i.a. here, but you’ll still find more of those overpriced cables!
Reason 8: They are completely ignoring the market for DJ equipment. Basically, they suck if you wanna be a DJ. Computer midi controllers are a big advancement in the expanding DJ market. Many startup models are inexpensive, and they come in many different shapes and forms that will make excellent stocking stuffers in the electronics arena, but Best Buy is ignoring this viable market that is steadfastly gaining mainstream exposure. Another fail.
Reason 9: They are launching a “Silver Rewards Program” for customers that spend $2500 a year. Note: Impossible. $2500 on electronics and media seems like a lot of money in the midst of this global recession we’re in. The tourist dollar is dead and so is the domestic, so why quantify a cruddy reward program on this ridiculous premise. If you look at the actual rewards, it’s complete nonsense, and an exercise in cheap hype.
Reason 10: Stop offering bullshit extended warranties on cheap goods. It is so obvious, yet trite: If you purchase a $100 flat screen TV, why on earth would you even think of opting for an insurance/warranty program. It is a cheap back door for profit, and makes the customer feel highly insecure at checkout. Real cheap move Best Buy, but they’re not the only ones doing it.
Is this an assault on Best Buy, or all the electronics superstores? The answer: yes and no. This is a message to all the big electronics giants, and Best Buy just happens to be the ideal candidate and the most obvious choice. They are slipping and tripping over themselves, and if they don’t formulate a whole new makeover, you can say goodbye to those black Fridays.