Best Buy Is Trying To Copy The Apple Store’s Retail Mojo [Report]

Best Buy Is Trying To Copy The Apple Store’s Retail Mojo [Report]

First Microsoft, and now Best Buy.

According to a new report in The Wall Street Journal, Best Buy is prototyping a new retail store experience that borrows heavily from the Apple Store. Unlike the traditional retail layout of cluttered displays and long checkout lines, Best Buy is testing a more open environment that allows customers to pay at multiple locations in the store.

Also borrowing from Apple’s strategy, the whole retail experience focuses more on connecting customers with Best Buy employees to help answer questions about products. The test store is located near Best Buy’s headquarters in Richfield, Minnesota.

The heart of a test store near Best Buy’s headquarters here is a Solution Central help desk, rimmed with chairs and manned by the company’s black-tied Geek Squad. It strongly resembles the Genius Bar at Apple’s stores.

Sounds a lot like the Genius Bar, right? Best Buy is also adopting the futuristic checkout experience the Apple Store pioneered. The report is unclear as to whether employees check customers out with handheld devices like Apple Store employees do, but the process is definitely more streamlined. Who wants to stand in a checkout line anymore?

According to Best Buy, the new format is just a first step in dealing with long-standing problems. “This is catch-up, if you will, but there’s much more to come,” said interim Chief Executive Mike Mikan, referring to the experimental store he described as “Best Buy 2.0’.

Sounds a lot like the “Apple Store 2.0’ makeover that brought Personal Pickup and EasyPay to Apple’s retail locations last year.

I would argue that Best Buy copying the Apple Store is actually a very good thing. Apple has the greatest consumer retail experience mastered already, and here’s to hoping more retail chains follow suit in the near future.

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  • mackey_kamran

    I hope this is true as I agree. Best Buy stores are cluttered.

  • theobserving

    meh. if anything apple retail is slowly becoming best buy.

  • Germán Villacreces

    I am happy for Best Buy, there is a big difference between copying Apple and following some of the best practices they have. It seems like Best Buy wants to just follow Apple’s example. Microsoft on the other side even copied the look and feel of the Apple Store. See the big difference?

  • c_hack

    You can’t put lipstick on a pig. I’ve bought many PCs through BB retail and their service is uniformly terrible. Long lines, ignorant and unhelpful techs, and non-existent support.

    The last time I went in with an Asus laptop whose screen failed in 3 months. I went back to the store where I bought it. I waited in line for over an hour. The tech provided absolutely no help – just told me to mail it to Asus. That was the straw that broke the camels back. If I’m going to pay retail, why on earth would I go to a store that provides no service. Not to mention, Apple provides a variety of corporate and educational discounts – without even asking for them. And their staff is helpful, and knowledgable.

  • Luekos

    Apple lawsuit in 3… 2… 1… BANNED!

  • joewaylo

    They must need better chairs in Best Buy than those. Who’d kneel during a training?

  • StudioXIV

    Department stores have been doing this forever. Apple did not create the idea of paying in multiple locations in a store.

  • h0ffer

    I work in Richfield about a block from that BB. They made the overall store a bit smaller. There is some make up or hair styling store opening in the space they gave up.

    The first time I bought something after they were done was confusing. The store doesn’t have the normal register lanes that every BB has had forever. I finally noticed a cashier sign above what I thought was the customer service counter.

    If they have people walking around with devices to take your money, I did not noticed it. I also didn’t notice them accepting payment in other locations, but they might. I wasn’t looking for it as I wouldn’t expect to see that at a BB.

    I don’t know how much the place reminds of an Apple Store. It still has rows of DVDs, videogames, etc… Also still sells appliances and has the Magnolia room.

  • djrobx

    I hate the lack of dedicated checkout areas in Apple Stores. It’s fine if the store isn’t busy, but god forbid there’s lots of people. Then, finding an available salesperson to check you out becomes like finding an open parking spot at the mall on Christmas.

  • Teyes

    the checkout sounds like Circuit City from 5 years ago… which was not so bad.

  • mujaku

    Don’t worry about Apple. During 1976 as a Buddhist monk I had an extraordinary vision that lasted for two weeks. In the vision, describing how Buddhism would be spread, it described a personal computer. Then it asked me to sit under the apple tree in the back of the temple. This was before Steve and Woz came up with the name, Apple. So the gods are working for this company. It is only going to get more awesome.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for three years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by places like the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too. All DMs excepted.

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