Tech Pulse Action Alert – Best Buy

I think the layout of a store speaks a great deal about a company’s strategy.  It’s definitely a barometer.

Haven’t been to Best Buy’s stores in a good while.  I was there the other day to pick up the Michael Jackson Experience and wow have they changed the floor plan.  It’s obvious, like Apple, they hire the best of the best to analyze and improve upon the layout and people flow of their monster stores.  Here are my take aways.

– Gone are the cattle herding checkout lanes, once lined with shiny impulse buy items like batteries, candy, water, red bull and discounted video games.  Well they are not completely gone, but toned down to a civilized level.  I feel less like a cud chewer.

–  The new floor plan has that free-flowing rapture of the deep thing popularized in department stores, where you keep losing track of which way is up.  This intentional disorientation leads to those As the world falls Down feelings… You know what I mean Labyrinth fans.

– Motion Control systems like the Xbox Kinect and Playstation Move both have big faux living room demo setups, but they are relegated to one of the far back walls.  This seems less than ideal for customer impact.  Perhaps Best Buy believes these will sell themselves based on consumer anticipation,  but it still seems odd when the Kinect is topping so many of the analyst’s Christmas top seller lists.  Video Games aren’t quite getting the VIP treatment this year it seems.  Although Wii pack-in systems were placed in a strange island near the entrance of the store almost acting as a visual barrier to make the reveal of the new store layout more grandiose.

– Three new islands dramatically angled against the store walls yet parallel to each other are prominently featured in the center of the store.  These are the main attractions.

– The first island is iPhone 4 dominated along with other Android devices

– The second island is mostly Samsung Galaxy Tabs (all running Angry Birds) and a couple Google TV powered Sony Flatscreens

– The Third island is not quite as focused, with some other Android tablets, and e readers.

No iPads were found on these islands, however in very close proximity to the Tablet/Google TV island was an iPad kiosk.

So what’s this have to do with you guys, the Podcasters, the New Media Movers and Shakers?  Best Buy is betting that a big ol’ consumer shift thing is reaching its tipping point this season and they are all in to make the most of it.  Best Buy is in the business of entertainment goods and services.  To them the new era of entertainment is all about the phones that barely get used as a phones, the tablet as the next big computer form factor,  and TVs that stream content from the internet.  Best Buy’s CEO is conservative in his statements publicly, but I think the actions are speaking loudly here.  This is a mean product threesome that all get their power of attraction thanks to the wealth of content on the internet.  This puts podcasters dead center in the eye of the storm.

…Also, they seem to be leaning on Angry Birds to move units and QR Codes on the walls for geek cred…

But it seems like we’ve got ourselves a sea change a happenin’, at least at Best Buy in Pittsburgh.  So Surf’s Up Podcasters!.

– Dave M



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