An article from last week I only got around to reading today but has an interesting idea: what if Best Buy curated their inventory to only carry the best values in each product area instead of dozens of choices? They certainly have the domain expertise to choose the very best products but I’m sure nearly all their partners would not like this idea. But if Best Buy transformed their brand to be about the customer actually getting the best value for their money and avoid the ‘paradox of choice’ they could turn their business around fairly quickly.
Almost two years ago I agreed to participate at Minnov8, a group blog focused on innovation in web technology here in Minnesota. The brainchild of my friend Steve Borsch, I haven’t really participated very consistently except for our weekly podcast. So I thought I would help correct this by posting a review of Best Buy’s mIQ service there today. I hope to get a post over there at least once every week or two… we’ll see how that works out. Next time it will be about Twin Cities wine stores embracing social media so at least I have a topic to think about for the next few days…
One of the most impressive things about what Best Buy is doing online these days is they are experimenting with a number of emerging technologies. They have an interesting Twitter strategy and their open API initiative called Remix is very innovative. But the experiment that really has me fascinated is their augmented reality play, Best Buy in 3-D.
It seems like 3-D is the next online gimmick but most of what I’ve seen so far are Google Maps mashups. Best Buy in 3-D uses your webcam, now built into most laptops, to make their Sunday supplements more interactive. Hit their site, authorize it to use your webcam and then hold up the ad. Since we no longer take the Sunday paper I have not tested this yet but will do so this Sunday.
Nice innovation, BBY.
The recent rebranding of RadioShack as “The Shack” seems to me a sign the venerable electronics retailer is making it’s last stand. And it’s sad for those of us who grew up with the brand and have only recently gone elsewhere for electronic parts due to a dwindling selection at most retail outlets. Instead of radios, electronic instruments and other cool products under the counter, today’s Shack is more likely to feature an overpriced netbook. Big box retailers like Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Costco own the market for such products and RadioShack can’t seem to find their niche in this new environment. The few times I visit a store these days is to buy an overpriced cord to connect my iPod to the rental car aux jack. If I see a Wal-mart or Target before a Shack location, I go to those retailers as the same product is likely available for less.
But I will remember Radio Shack as the place to buy obscure electronic parts, educational kits and, yes, radios. My 18 year old Realistic shortwave still reliably tunes in the BBC when I’m out of wifi range or the power is out. RIP Radio Shack. You will be missed.