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.