Is the era of big electronics chains coming to an end?
Best Buy, practically the last major electronics specialty retailer left standing, recently reported poor earnings, store closings and corporate cutbacks. One could easily have written the same headline last quarter, the quarter before, or the quarter before that. Is this the death spiral for Big Yellow?
Competing chains like Circuit City, Ultimate Electronics and Tweeter are already dust in the bone yard. Cut-rate e-tailers like Amazon are chewing at one ankle, while cut-rate brick and mortar chains like Wal Mart are chomping on the other. Factor in the falling prices/profits on practically all electronics, and a saturated market for bellwethers like big screen TVs and the future looks pretty bleak for the guys in the blue shirts.
Is there a future in big-box electronics retailing? Maybe not -- smaller boutique-type establishments like the Apple stores are going like gangbusters and showing the industry that bigger selection isn't necessarily such an advantage anymore. Especially when the Internet has more of a selection than any physical retailer could ever have.
It's time for a new paradigm in consumer electronics retailing. There are too many products, too few knowledgeable salespeople, too many questionable buying options and too little profit to sustain the current landscape. It's time for something new.
What if there was another way that blended the best of the online and brick/mortar experience? For your consideration, check out a sketch for a new kind of electronics store.