A Case Study in Evolving: How Best Buy Survived to Thrive - Medallion Retail
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Strategy, In-store Experience, Transformation

A Case Study in Evolving: How Best Buy Survived to Thrive

POSTED ON: 05/30/18 Best Buy

Electronics stores are dead. Or so we thought. Best Buy, against all odds, has fought its way back to become once again a thriving electronics chain.  Since they had a leadership switch in 2012, Best Buy’s shares have rocketed from $22.34 to $78.92. That’s a hefty 241.92% increase, and an incredible recovery, beating Wall Street expectations every quarter since then.

So how did Best Buy survive when other big-box electronics retailers like Circuit City and Radio Shack failed? Beyond just repricing products and cutting costs, Best Buy took actionable steps to improve it customer service and In-Store Shopper MomentsTM.  Here’s how they did it.

Prioritizing customer service, strengthening consumer education

Purchasing expensive electronics is not something consumers take lightly. They spend time researching products, comparing prices and finding the right fit for their needs. A lot of this research takes place online. But there’s opportunity and need for more education on the store floor.

Best Buy recognized this need and their in-store advantage, and invested in their customer support staff. They retrained employees so that they could provide informed customer service and better educate shoppers.

The company has always been known for their tongue-in-cheek-named Geek Squad – their cadre of tech-savvy staffers who drive to consumers’ homes in branded Volkswagen buggies, helping install and troubleshoot tech products. The branding and knowledgeable service made the Squad a customer favorite.

Mirroring the stellar success of the Apple in-store experience, Best Buy is now leveraging the appeal of its Squad. Walk into an Apple Store and you’re immediately introduced to a “Genius”, ready and able to help. Now, Best Buy is actively and aggressively retraining floor staff to be more knowledgeable about the nuances of electronics, equipping them to be able to explain products, answer questions and shine as tech pros. Floor staff are product experts, not just salespeople, and they can effectively educate their consumers. Best Buy’s expansion of its knowledge-based services also includes a new advisor program that provides in-home consultation to help shoppers decide among products.

Creating micro stations for better brand demonstrations

At times, electronics stores can feel like Times Square – all lit up and flashing. The stores have a wide range of brands and products, each with their own unique campaign and display materials. This can be a recipe for consumer confusion and overwhelming options.

Traditionally, electronics stores displayed products that were locked to shelves. Hands-on trials were constrained. Rather than grouping products by brand, they were grouped by type. While this made intuitive sense and allowed for literal side-by-side comparison, it didn’t work so well in practice. The crammed displays limited how much manufacturers could highlight the specific features of their products. The brands meshed together and so did their products.

Best Buy is going in the opposite direction. The store is like a showroom, inviting companies like Samsung, Apple and Microsoft to set up unique branded areas within the store to showcase products.

The mini-shops are true to global branding. The Apple area takes the sleek wooden tables from their Apple Stores and brings them into Best Buy, integrating the design into the greater store with a unique eye for continuity.

Overall, the sleek areas allow for more space and more opportunity for shoppers to interact with the brands – the products and the sales staff are finally freed up to offer exciting In-Store Shopper MomentsTM.

Amplifying signage as the silent salesperson

Best Buy is actively playing up their humanity with better salespeople. But as excellent and informative as they are, the employees can’t be everywhere at once. And let’s face it: on a busy Saturday afternoon, it may take time for a salesperson to get freed up to help shoppers. That’s why signage is so important: it’s the silent salesperson.

Attractive and eye-catching, signage grabs the shopper’s attention. Perhaps more importantly, signage is educational. It’s the first stop for the shopper – the first teacher. Therefore it has to be so much more than just the traditional comparison cards.

Electronics and technology shoppers vary in their expertise. They could be tech masters looking for new products. They could be tech beginners looking to become pros. Or they could be tech novices who are thankful for any and all help. Signage has the power to assist the shopper at every level. It is low pressure and helps customers figure out what they should be asking the in-store salespeople.

58% of shoppers rely on their phones to research products while in store. Signage should be informative enough that audiences don’t have to rely on their phones as their default salesperson, and concisely and clearly explain important details, and facilitate comparisons.

For all of Best Buy’s advancements, comparative signage is still one area that the stores can improve upon – and they can learn from other industries, like sporting goods.

Overall, Best Buy’s success stems deeply from their ability to improve the retail experience with sleek displays and upgraded training materials. Click To Tweet To top off their revamp, the electronics retailer changed its logo for the first time in almost 30 years. This update is the icing on the cake of a company’s journey from having one foot in the grave to regaining leadership in its category and defying those who foretold of the “retail apocalypse”.

From displays to electronic and print signage to companywide training materials, Medallion Retail can help electrify in-store sales. Email Michael Decker at engage@medallionretail.com, call 212-929-9130, or check out our portfolio at medallionretail.com.

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