Differentiate with digital

Do You Need Retail Stores? Best Buy Thinks Not.

Martin Gill
Vice President, Research Director
November 8, 2011


Disappointing news for UK shoppers today – Best Buy has announced that it will close its UK stores by the end of the year.

Best Buy was a bit of a breath of fresh air in a multichannel consumer electronics market in the UK that is struggling to find its identity as sales shift rapidly to the web. In a Website Functionality Benchmark we conducted earlier this year, we found that Best Buy stood out in a number of areas against its European competition, and its approach to multichannel retailing was similarly refreshing. While UK traditionalists DSGI have been struggling to find a multichannel model that works for them, Best Buy seemed to embrace the concept of agile commerce quite neatly. It understood that shoppers want flexibility to research, transact, purchase, and return products across multiple touchpoints, be that the web, the store or mobile.

And mobile is definitely where Best Buy and many other retailers clearly see the future.

John Lewis recently announced plans to implement free customer Wi-Fi in all of its stores, encouraging shoppers to use their smartphones for research while on the move. A bold move, encouraging shoppers to check out how much other retailers are charging for the products you are selling in your own store, but one that resonates with the behavior we see in European mobile shoppers. While mobile commerce is still small in Europe, it is growing fast – though with a key difference to the US and Asian markets in particular.  European shoppers lean more toward using their mobile phones to research and enable the offline shopping journey rather than for buying. While retailers are seeing an increase in the number of transactions they service through mobile sites or apps, it is this more rounded behavior that marks European shoppers out.

So investing in a mobile strategy is absolutely key.  Doing so at the expense of your entire store chain may be throwing the baby out with the bath water.


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