After opening its first store in the UK last Friday, Best Buy has seen its best-ever opening weekend sales since they first set up shop in 1983. In this age of online shopping, it's surprising. But not for the UK.
See, here in my home country, we don't have Fry's, Walmart, or Circuit City. Sure, we've got a few chains—Currys, PC World, and up until recently Dixons (which has now gone online-only), but we certainly don't have any megamarts full of aisles of various cables and plugs like the States does.
Best Buy's first store is in Thurrock, Essex—located East of London, it's near where the 2012 Olympics will be held. While Best Buy had some decent reductions on its opening day, and a lot of fanfare, I can see it doing really well here, despite the obvious threat of online shopping on Amazon etc being strong.
Currys and Dixons, owned by the same DSG International group, have a pretty bad reputation. While Dixons has gone online-only, Currys still manages to astound with its poor choice and lack of knowledge in staff. Fair enough, I'm aware I know more about technology than the average bloke off the street, but every time I've visited a branch I've always been appalled by how little they know. Not just that though—it's the amount of incorrect information they're willing to feed potential customers. They are quite willing to just make stuff up on the spot, to sell a couple of TVs.
It's got to the point where if I'm walking past a branch I'll duck in, just to quiz an assistant and hear their bumbling mistakes.
So Best Buy's got a real advantage here, I think. I know in the US their store assistants are famed for knowing jack all about the products they sell, but it's still a strong brand.
Having a decent range with semi-knowledgeable assistants should hopefully revitalize the high street retail tech industry. Jonathan Weinberg, a journalist at The Sun who I spoke to after he visited the store told me that "their level of technical knowledge on the whole seemed good in terms of the employees I chatted to before the launch," with the "American-style of customer service certainly making a change in Britain." Goodness knows it's needed. [TechRadar]
Image credit: The Sun