Carol's Right Brain on...Best Buy's Connected Stores

In her latest contribution as a Retail Wire panelist, Carol comments on Best Buy's recent changes and specifically, its "new" connected store concept. Having toured one of the early versions mid last year, she weighs in on the pros and cons.

Here's what she had to say..

I'm confused. Best Buy launched connected stores a while back and I took a group on a tour of one of them last June. While I'm sure that Best Buy will continue to tweak the concept and add new bells and whistles, the one that I visited was noticeably different from a traditional Best Buy in good and not-so-good ways. I liked the clear sight lines and the way that products were pulled together into vignettes by occasions and seasonality. Blue shirts were doing a great job of working with customers on solutions and services (as in, sitting next to them and talking through options), and products that normally wouldn't see the light of day (such as personal care items) were showcased on end caps. The self-help touch screens were problematic because I noticed that many customers thought that they were reserved for employees. I also think that Best Buy associates are going to have a hard time training customers to use them (isn't that what the Blue Shirts are for?). Best Buy has been dinged for pushing service plans and such in the past. Positioning this service and subscription-heavy environment as a value-add to customers will take some finesse.

It's fascinating that Best Buy is actually erecting walls inside of existing stores in order to reduce square footage (at least in the store that I visited). The only retailer that is truly turning into a smaller format retailer (not just adding small stores to the fleet).