Bloomberg television ran a brief segment in which they posited that Best Buy (BBY) has effectively become Amazon’s (AMZN) biatch. And I think there’s some truth to that. This is no doubt one of the consequences of a population that walks around with smartphones running barcode scanning applications that allow us to see, touch, examine, try out a potential purchase and then, if it is to our liking, immediately search the web to find its best price — possibly (probably?) elsewhere, and maybe even order it before we leave the site at which we went to go see it in the first place. Unless it’s an impulse buy — walk in for a $12 thumb drive, walk out with a $700, 50″ flat panel? — why wouldn’t you:
- Pay a lower price
- Pay no tax
- Probably get free shipping
- Have your purchase in just 2-3 days
And the proof of the pudding seems to be in the performance:
I’d postulate this trend is a contributing factor to this news item about weaker BBY sales in general, but which contained this interesting tidbit (I’d guess the sale of mobile devices has a much higher immediate, on-site close rate than, say, digital cameras or other higher-end electronics) :
The chain is also pushing hard to open smaller stores. The company is opening 150 smaller-format mobile only stores by the end of the year, nearly doubling its total to 325.
“We are exploring and redefining what the optimal big-box footprint is for us,” CEO Brian Dunn said on a call with analysts.
And yes, I’m aware of Amazon’s far more diverse offerings — consider this post as applicable only to electronics.
BR adds: I have been playing with the Amazon PriceCheck barcode scanning app — it spells the end of retailing as we previously knew it . . .