While Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) pushes into cloud services and managed services with its mindSHIFT business, the retail giant continues to overhaul its brick and mortar stores. The latest concept: Smaller stores featuring Solution Central -- an Apple Genius Bar knock-off, manned by Geek Squad employees. Can Best Buy blend face-to-face customer service with cloud-centric recurring revenues?
Chatter about Best Buy Solution Central surfaced in today's Wall Street Journal. The Journal says a Best Buy store in Richfield, Minn. -- near the company's headquarters -- already has the Solution Central help desk in place. Over and over again, the Journal says Best Buy is trying to emulate the Apple Store experience.
But here's the key challenge:
- Apple Stores are stocked with products customers crave. And there really aren't that many products from which to choose within an Apple Store.
- Best Buy stores are stocked with thousands of products from hundreds (thousands?) of different technology companies. Some products are fantastic. Others are not so great.
Still, if Best Buy manages to improve the in-store shopping experience, I'd be inclined to open my wallet a bit more frequently there. So I'll take a wait-and-see approach and look forward to testing the in-store help desks when they launch in New York (my home state).
The Solution Central concept arrives as Best Buy evolves its management team, and digs deeper into the managed services market. mindSHIFT, the company's MSP business, recently acquired White Glove Technologies -- one of the top 100 MSPs in the world.
But questions about Best Buy's overall strategy remain, and the company's co-founder recently resigned and is considering strategies to potentially take the company private, according to published reports.