If you’ve always dreamt of a trained Best Buy employee entering your home and telling you which electronic products you need, you are in luck, my friend. Starting this fall, you can beckon a Best Buy salesperson to your house, where they’ll try to sell you Best Buy products at no extra cost. Wish granted!
The new program is already in the works, having been tested by Best Buy in five markets. This week, the company announced that it would be rolling out the traveling salesperson approach nationwide. Best Buy chief executive Hubert Joly told The Wall Street Journal that the new program “allows us to unlock latent demand.” Joly added, “What we’re finding is people in the home tend to spend more because we address a bigger need for them compared to what they spend in the store.”
Wait a second. Did Best Buy’s CEO just admit that people aren’t shopping at Best Buy in stores as much anymore? And that the company’s answer to this conundrum will amount to sending the salespeople directly into customers’ living rooms, so they can recommend high-priced television sets and sound bars to match like some sort of door-to-door encyclopedia salesmen? Maybe the Best Buy guy will even talk them into some sort of smart lighting system and a voice-controlled speaker, too—so long as it’s not an Amazon Echo, obviously.
This is hardly a surprising move for Best Buy which, like almost every brick-and-mortar chain, has suffered from the rise of online shopping. In an effort not to become the next Circuit City (RIP), the home of the Geek Squad has to get creative. Plus, Amazon just announced its own free smarthome consultation service last month that sounds a lot like the Best Buy service, except Amazon’s program is all online. For $100 or so, however, you can hire an Amazon technician to come to your house and set up your gadgets. At Best Buy, you’ll get the in-home consultation service for free, but you’ll still have to pay the Geek Squad if you need help setting up your stuff.
Despite the hot competition, however, Joly wants everyone to know that Best Buy isn’t all that scared of Amazon. “This is not a zero-sum game between Amazon and Best Buy,” Joly told the Journal. “There’s room, frankly, for several players.”
Unless you’d rather not invite strangers into your home to sell you products. In that case, the virtual Amazon consultation seems like a solid option.