By David Poland email@example.com
The Lessons Of Best Buy
Every now and again, I spend some time at Best Buy. And while the odds of me making purchases at the store have been reduced to almost nothing – “Ding Dong! It’s UPS with your Amazon purchase!” – I still find the marketing efforts of the Best Buy team to be quite illuminating about where we are in the retail universe as regards filmed entertainment. After about 90 minutes wandering around today, I found…
3D TV is not close to being a significant medium – There were four 3D TVs set up amongst the 150 or so HDTV sets on the floor. The primary offering was a 3D trailer for The Smurfs. The very clever “glasses on a pole” became less clever when you realized you were sticking your face where other faces had been with no idea whether the glasses had been cleaned recently. But more importantly, only 2 of the 4 sets had impressive 3D images. And then, when the offering was “what’s on ESPN 3D?,” the answer was “nothing.” Instead there was a blurry, but not really 3D on any of the sets episode of NCIS. Here’s the news, gang. No one is buying one of these things to watch the Smurfs movie. Show me how great the NFL – live or saved – looks and then I might started considering spending 50% more for 3D.
Prices on HDTV have dropped in a serious way – Most of them are now LCD and LED… and almost everything under 60″ is under $1000. Over 50″ seems to rise in price significantly, but still all under $3000.
The big thing is internet-ready TV – Almost every featured TV was sporting a scroll about the various kinds of internet access that was available on the TV, from Netflix to Crackle and on and on. The smallest TVs and the largest were touting this option. And every accessory that makes the connection without a special TV was also on display. This movement has all the signs of a success… it’s cool… it adds value… and you don’t seem to be paying more for it.
DVD is over – And not just regular DVD… Blu-ray already needs to be looking over its shoulder. Pricing is all over the place. There are Blu-rays cheaper than conventional DVDs because the studios are now pushing for Ultraviolet-included product. But all the prices are getting lower and lower. And the shelf space is getting smaller and smaller. Walking into the Beat Buy I was at, CDs are in front, Blu-ray behind and DVD peeking out all over. Louis CK did a concert and put it on the web and if you wanted a DVD, you could burn one if you wanted. The idea and its results have all kinds of implications, but the one relevant here is the DVD burning one. Studios are already anticipating the moment when you never put a disc in a player again… and can watch a film you have paid for on any of your TVs, you tablets, your pads, and whatever new devices show up in the future.
Best Buy is not too long for this world – The idea of a brick and mortar retailer competing with internet and FedEx/UPS is near over. Places where you can touch stuff will exist and thrive, eventually selling stuff at web pricing, probably having it delivered 2-day or overnight with a openly stated 10% uptick in price (or more) for retail-level stocking costs. Best Buy is selling more coffee machines, taking up more floor space with appliances, and doing a lot of space that is branded by the manufacturer. The company may well evolve into a showroom for stuff that’s sold online. There will be a good model for that someday (that will likely involve fewer “salespeople” who are a LOT better trained and paid). But what the company was… really close to over.