While we may not yet be in the age of robots that clean up our messes or retina-engaged advertising, there’s no denying that technology is changing our lives, especially the way we shop. And nothing seems to be more primed for rapid change than the intersection of e-commerce, mobile, and physical storefronts. Mobile and e-commerce continue to thrive and morph, but as my colleague Will said about those brick-and-mortar shops: “It’s all doomed (I’m kidding… maybe).”
It seems like the writing is on the wall: technology has corrupted the in-store experience. We can scan QR codes or tags and easily find lower prices online. Blockbuster has stripped strip malls across the country of its ticket-signs, and many other stores have faded into the mist. Now, CNET reports that Best Buy is struggling to cope with the fluctuating commerce landscape. How can they turn that “maybe” into a “yes, we will be around in 10 years?”
According to the article, Best Buy’s biggest problem is showrooming. The store’s prices will never outshine Amazon‘s. Price-conscious consumers simply give a product the good ol’ test drive in store and sneak away with the product number to buy online. Or, they brazenly pull out their phones and hand their money to a competitor as they shake hands with a sales rep on the way out the door. Either way, the signs point to a speedy demise of brick-and-mortar, especially for less price-competitive stores like Best Buy.
But lesser men have squeezed lemons into lemonade, and it is more than possible that a structure change will give Best Buy a way to stay profitable. The CNET article reports that the site is focusing less on big box stores and adopting more specialty locations. They are trying out new things like providing free shipping, focusing on service, and providing ongoing support for the products they sell via Geek Squad.
Here’s the big key to the store’s future: the company has plans to increase online revenue by 15 percent. The physical stores may stay alive, but creating a profitable website in conjunction with those stores and tying mobile pieces into the equation will help. As Best Buy is recognizing, competitors in the technology-driven world are both brick-and-mortar and online. Connecting a physical storefront with a strong, information-rich online presence will help Best Buy come out ahead.
Read the report at news.cnet.com.