Victor Wong:

When turnaround plans are discussed for traditional retailers like Best Buy, it’s just shocking to me that no one is talking about actually doing something other than cutting some cost or relabeling UPC products so shopper can’t price compare with Amazon. Best Buy needs to be selling amazing products that no one else has if it ever wants to take back marketshare and actually increase profits.

Very interesting idea from Wong — and I like how he points out that they could use sites like Kickstarter as the barometer for what is “cool.” I do think this is massively over simplified, because this would also require a fundamental change in culture at Best Buy and even if Best Buy could pull this off they still have other issues that could prevent such a plan from working.

Not the least of which is terrible employee training.

My recent Best Buy experience, attempting to buy an AirPrint enable printer that also has a scanner, went like so:

  • Wander aimlessly looking for the model numbers shown on HP’s website that are compatible with AirPrint. The models which I research before coming to the store, knew which I wanted and which I would settle for. (This was for one of my employees, not me.)
  • 10 minutes into my search (actually a record on slowness for being pestered by a Best Buy employee) I am approached.
  • I am asked if I need help, I say yes and tell the employee that I want a printer with AirPrint — and to show me those ones. He points to every printer by HP and says that they all have ePrint.
  • I tell him I don’t care about ePrint, I want AirPrint.
  • He asks what that is.
  • I tell him it allows me to print directly from my iPad.
  • He goes on to say: “That’s what ePrint does, you want any of these. You can even test it if you want.”
  • I give up on educating him, say ok, and he leaves.
  • I continue to wander around looking at model numbers when I hear another employee tell a couple looking for the same thing that the two printers on the end of the aisle are AirPrint enabled.
  • I don’t know the difference between the two on the end — the model numbers don’t match anything on HP’s website and the specification cards are horrible, I am frustrated, and annoyed. I grab the cheaper one, pay, and leave.

I was prepared to spend more money on a better printer, but Best Buy’s helpers had no clue how to actually listen to what I was saying, and then ask other employees for help when they clearly didn’t understand what I was saying. I left the store never wanting to come back again.

Now, my experience isn’t that dramatic, and likely hardly the worst experience. But if you are a couple of cool guys making a product for Kickstarter, would you even seriously consider selling out to Best Buy if this was going to be the experience your customers would have buying the product?

I think not.


Posted by Ben Brooks