Best Buy Says It's Not Afraid of "Showrooming". Really?

Best Buy says it is not afraid of showrooming, the practice of testing products at a physical retailer and then buying it online.  Best Buy says it is confident it can convert visitors into buyers, even if their intent was to buy online.

Well, that is a brave front.  And I wish them luck -- I certainly like having bricks and mortar retailers around when I need something fast and can't wait for the UPS truck.  But it probably was no accident that the article was illustrated with this picture:



What don't you see there?  CD's, DVD's, speakers, DVD players, computer games and most of the other stuff that used to make up a lot of Best Buy's floor space.  Because they have already been demolished by online retailers in those categories.   The picture above is of appliances, one of the few high dollar categories that has not migrated to the web.   Go to Best Buy and you will see appliances, health equipment, and TV's, all categories where bricks and mortar stores have some advantages over online.

This makes perfect sense, but don't tell me Best Buy is ready to take on the online retailers.  They are bobbing and weaving, ducking this competition wherever they can.

Postscript:  Best Buy is hoping that having "trained" sales people to help customers will garner business.  There are two problems with this.  One, the training of their sales staff has always been spotty, and likely will not get better as their financials go south.  And two, I find that reviews are far more helpful, and often more knowledgeable, than most in-store sales staff.   But on the positive side, who doesn't enjoy getting hassled for an extended warranty at checkout?


  1. No Dummy:

    More than once, I've used a computer on display at Best Buy to check their prices against Amazon.

  2. CTD:

    "What don't you see there?"

    More customers than I have hands.

  3. ErikTheRed:

    I love Amazon's iPhone app - just take a picture of the barcode...

  4. ErikTheRed:

    Best Buy's problem is that they've gone the full "CompUSA" - made their sales staff so abusively pushy that I'd rather stick my arm in a running garbage disposal than set foot in that store (I also have a fun story about being detained because I was carrying something heavy and awkward out the door and didn't set it down to show my receipt). They really remind me of this old Penny Arcade strip:

    Best Buy is by far the most convenient electronics retailer to me (1.5 miles vs. 20 miles to Fry's), but I can honestly say that the only thing I've bought there in the past decade was something that they had as an exclusive. I've gone in a few times looking for things, but have always been so put off by the experience that I wound up purchasing elsewhere. I'm not overly fond of Fry's either, but they've managed to stay beneath my "threshold of pain."

  5. MNHawk:

    The lack of stereo equipment is too bad because that is one thing I don't like to buy online, as I have way too many returns in the modern days of crappy quality.

  6. marque2:

    Best Buys problems are several fold
    1: They way overcharge for stuff.
    2: Their reps have little or no knowlege of items
    3: The stuff on display might work about 1/2 the time
    4: The stores are really sad, dark, and bleak. I get depressed when I walk into one.
    5: Their return policy is horrid - hopefully they got rid of this - but for years they had a 20% restocking fee policy.
    I buy from local retailers all the time, the advantage is, one I can get the item right away, and if the store is decent I can return it without having to deal with dragging the item to UPS and getting return authorizations and such. If the price is way out of line, I might still buy online, but if there is reasonable difference, my $200 camera sells for 170 at Newegg, I will probably purchase in the store.
    Look at how Costco does it. Their rates are maybe 5% more than the lowest price online. They have everything nicely displayed, and working, they have a rep full time in the tech department who can help you with your questions, and are generally knowlegable. If there is an issue with the TV (I generally don't like returning stuff, because I could have gotten a better one) I can return it in 90 days no question ask, price guarantee is 30 days (you can get 90 by threatening a return)
    And their are retail stores that seem to be able to pull off low prices and make a big profit that aren't club stores. Look at Fry's Electronics (not the Fry's grocery store in AZ) they actually proudly say they will match Internet prices, and they generally sell stuff for less than I can get online. In Fact when I live close to a Fry's I tend not to order nearly as much stuff from online. And like Best Buy and Circuit City 15 years ago - they sell everything, they didn't dump half the products when they became challenging. I can buy raw circuit chips, computers, stereos, washing machines, vaccum cleaners, and fridges still! (about 15 years ago Frys had issues with customer service as well, but when the Internet came - they shaped up really fast unlike some competitors. )

  7. marque2:

    I got my government digital TV converter there. They had a really good one. Recently someone gave me a gift certificate, so I got a camera which I could have purchased 25% less online. Camera sucked eggs unfortunately.

  8. marque2:

    YOu can get a generic bar code reader that will look at all internet sites, not just Amazon. I use "Barcode Scanner" which reads barcodes and QR codes and then looks up the product on the Internet. - I have it on Android, but I am sure it is on iOS as well.

  9. marque2:

    As long as we are talking customer service. Last year I got an unlocked Nexus 4 from Google. The phone was made with T-Mobile in mind, and T-Mobile actually created a mini campaign to attract Nexus 4 owners and even created a $30 contract free data plan for us (before they went all contract free)

    This year Sprint has become a partner with Google. Google says you can use the new Nexus 5 unlocked phone on Sprint. I called sprint 3 times. 2 times they said no, you can only use Sprint phones on Sprint, I called a third time because of assurances from several reliable sources that they will acdtivate it. The third time they told me to go to a Sprint store. At the Sprint store, they insisted they couldn't activate my phone. The rep asked his buddies, and told me to go to T-Mobile, they activate unlocked phones. When I insisted, he said he would look up my phone on the computer - and told me it is GSM only - You have to go to AT&T or T-Mobile. The guy flat out lied to me. The big deal about the unlocked Nexus 5 is it works on Sprint.
    In the end I found out that Sprint will be getting "sims"(they call them something else) for the Nexus 5 on Nov 8 - great, so now what about the plan.
    OK if you want sign up an unlocked Nexus 5 on Sprint, you are not allowed to use one of the two no contract Smart Phone plans, those require Sprint phones. YOu have to sign a 2 year contract, and you will get a new phone in 2 years - but if I wanted to do that, I would have bought the phone through Sprint, not Google. Oh brother. Yesterday I went to a T-Mobile store and got a SIM for the new phone. No hastle.
    Sprint, like Best Buy, is having trouble retaining customers, but the way they treat me - it is like they have way too many customers already. I was willing to join, especially since T-Mobile has some coverage problems and so it would be nice for my wife and I to be on different networks. They shoed me away. I am guessing Sprint will be gone in 10 years, unless they do a major attitude adjustment.

  10. marque2:

    Also sticking your arm in a running garbage disposal won't do much to your arm. Garbage disposals work by using centrifugal force to push the garbage to the sides of the devices. The side walls have the texture of a cheese grater (with smaller holes. ) Then if you look there are two or three moving legs attached to the bottom. These swing out and rub against the edge from the same force. If the foot on the arm encounters a piece of food or other substance, it will press it against the grater wall, and slide it accross the wall until it is ground down.
    Basically the center of the disposal is a no activity zone, so unless a bone or something gets flung on your hand you would experience very little damage to your body.

    Point is going to Best Buy is worse than sticking your arm in a garbage disposal. Fingers in Blender, we can debate :-)

  11. marque2:

    Fry's still has audio in a showroom. Best Buy does as well. Don't know where the idea that stereos have left the retail world has gone.

  12. MNHawk:

    There is no Frys in Minnesota, Audio King is gone, Ultimate Electronics is gone, and the only stereo equipment left in Best Buy is relegated to the corner of the store. That's where the idea that stereo equipment has left the retail world came from.

    Let's say I want to audition some Polk Speakers. I do a search at Polk. I get Best Buy, and a few interior design places. Note, they're not actually at the last two Best Buy's I visited, Eden Prairie and Mall of America. But hey, I can order them online, right?

    That's where my idea comes from, that I can't buy stereo equipment in a retail store, anymore.

  13. c_andrew:

    Garbage disposal? What's that? Now, under my sink, I do have a handy little gadget called a spoon sharpener. Well, I think that's what it is cuz that's all it seems to do...

  14. Settin it str8:

    How about the "Free Ship to Store" banner in the background? Seems like they're encouraging online shopping:)

  15. MingoV:

    I went to Best Buy to check out auto stereo systems. The listening room had poor acoustics, the "car door" speakers had too much bass, and the wall of in-dash stereo choices was not organized logically (either by price range or vendor). I left quickly and bought my auto stereos at Crutchfield's online store. They provided excellent help and sent me a cable extender at no charge after I discovered that the cable in my Subaru was not long enough to reach a right-sided plug.

  16. marque2:

    Man whenever I move I make sure I am close to Costco and Fry's. Fry's is about a mile from me Costco 2
    Miles. :-)

  17. MNHawk:

    i guess if you're happy with Bose, Costco would work.

  18. MNHawk:

    I just looked up Fry's. Yep, Chicago is the closest to me. But it is exactly what I miss in Audio King/Ultimate like experience.

  19. BigBaron D:

    How things have changed...

  20. Voolfie:

    Best Buy Delenda Est!

  21. rst1317:

    This summer I bought both a camera and a iTouch at Best Buy. At the time of buying it, they had the lowest price. I suspect the real problem for Best Buy isn't that I went for the lowest prices on the main item but that I didn't buy any add-ons. For example, one of the cases for my iTouch was going for 1/4th the price on Amazon as it was being sold for in Best Buy.

  22. marque2:

    Costco is good for TVs and TV components. Though they do have on fancy Sony 5 - 1 "doubly" receiver which can be used for a home stereo. I listened and thought it needed more "doubly" :P