Thumbs up for Best Buy’s blue shirted techies

The long, long awaited opening of Best Buy in the UK has finally arrived to shake up the consumer electronics retail market and bring some fresh thinking in the shape of its blue and yellow “Big Box” outlets.

It’s the first big name US retail brand to try its hand in the UK retail scene since I can remember, and the eyes of the entire retail sector, not just the likes of DSGi and Tesco, will be watching its moves closely.

Best Buy claims to be the world’s number one speciality consumer electronics retailer with more than 1,000 US stores and 300 across Canada, China and Europe. It accounts for 21% of the U.S. consumer electronics market.

Its UK rivals, Comet and DSGi, which owns Curry’s, and PC World are no doubt tripping over themselves to see what Best Buy will do and really see what the competition is bringing to the UK.

In preparation for its arrival, DSGi accelerated its transformation programme and the roll out of it’s ’2 in 1’ formats, which combine Curry’s and PC World under one roof and Tesco has beefed up its in-store tech service by rolling out it’s “tech team”. The supermarket is poised to overtake Comet as the UK’s third biggest electricals retailer has also said it will employ a further 1,000 techies in an attempt to rival the quality and in-store service Best Buy is renowned for in the US.

Best Buy’s stores are set to revolutionise the sector, which according to its marketing director Kevin Styles, has been underinvested for some time.

Best Buy has spent 18 months getting to grips with the UK customer and what does and doesn’t float UK’s boat in terms of electronics products and retailing and Styles believes they now have a clear understanding of what people want from them.

He does however recognise that there will inevitably be things that the chain gets wrong and its job is to make sure it works on fixing those things as it rolls out across the UK.

What I find appealing about the store is that it recognises that not everyone loves technology, and that the need to shop for and chose increasingly high-tech items like TVs, mobile phones, cameras and MP3 players is becoming more and more complex as consumer electronics develop at a rate of knots.

Choosing the mobile handset is often just the beginning of the issues Best Buy is seeking to solve for its customers.

Its “Walk out Working” proposition promises that if you want, one of Best Buy’s “blue shirt” techies will, in Styles’s words: “do whatever it takes to make it personalised when you leave the store”, right down to transferring your numbers and setting the ringtone you want so that it’s ready to use as soon as you leave the store.

I for one will hop, skip and jump towards Best Buy and its blue shirted techies when my trusty camera or MP3 player finally bite the dust to see if it really can make the experience enjoyable.


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