Bumbling Best Buy Getting Apple Makeover

Gadgets chain tests human focus

By Tim Karan,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 5, 2012 9:44 AM CDT | Updated Jul 8, 2012 7:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Struggling big box electronics giant Best Buy is taking a page from Apple's svelte playbook and testing a new strategy to turn its warehouse-like stores into more streamlined and intimate retail outlets, says the Wall Street Journal. A test store in Minnesota prominently features a Geek Squad-staffed Solution Central, much like a Genius Bar at Apple's stores.

Best Buy says the prototype puts fewer products on display and prompts a more personalized shopping experience with trained experts. The main goal is to cut down on "showrooming," where customers visit the store to get a look at gadgets they later buy online—namely at arch-rival Amazon. Best Buy's stock has dropped 33% in the past two years, and although a more knowledgeable staff would likely cost more to employ, the president of US operations says, "We don't see these as costs but investments that will lead to higher sales in less square footage." Click for Slate's take on why Best Buy might be onto something.

Shoppers look at televisions displayed at a Best Buy store after a midnight opening on Friday, Nov. 25, 2011, in Brentwood, Tenn.
Shoppers look at televisions displayed at a Best Buy store after a midnight opening on Friday, Nov. 25, 2011, in Brentwood, Tenn.   (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Customers walk in and out of Best Buy in Danvers, Mass., on Thursday, June 21, 2012.
Customers walk in and out of Best Buy in Danvers, Mass., on Thursday, June 21, 2012.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
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