Against the internet odds, Best Buy and a few other legacy chains are confounding expectations and keeping customers willing to circle a parking lot, set foot in a store, and pay the same price (maybe even a little more) for goods they could one-click for two-day delivery.
The question is, why?
Electronics is an easy category for comparison shopping, with prices on the same model readily available. <cough> Mattresses <cough>. But Best Buy has literally banked on the human touch—on consumers’ desire to lay hands and eyes on a product and to speak to a (knowledgeable!) human before deciding on a purchase.
And Best Buy doesn’t just sell electronics (the margins are too skimpy), when the register cha-chings, a trained member of the chain’s “Geek Squad” will — for a price with a fatter margin — come out and install a system, ensuring that Speaker A plays nicely with Soundbar B. A holiday without rebooting Uncle Ed’s router? It’s a Christmas miracle!
Lulu is thriving too
For consumers whose “lifestyle” includes $20 scrunchies and $140 leggings, Lululemon continues to appeal in brick-and-mortar meatspace as well as the virtual marketplace. What started as pricey yoga togs has lotus-blossomed into a community of flatteringly clad consumers eager to take classes and lectures at physical locations and even to attend retreats and festivals to gather with other of the Lululemon like-minded tribe. It’s working: the company’s sales are strong and the stock is solid. If you can’t beat ‘em, sell on ‘em: LuLu’s products are available on Amazon, too. Namaste.
Success stories aside, traditional retailers can’t afford to relax on their mats. Amazon is gunning for our grocery dollar—the largest retail segment in the U.S. economy. And Whole Foods is just part of their brick-and-mortar assault. New stores like Amazon Go (a cashier-less convenience store), Amazon 4-star, Amazon Books, and Amazon Pop-Up show that Bezos isn’t going to slow his roll.