American Invasion

Having been one of the most talked about issues in the UK industry for around two years now, Best Buy finally opened the doors to its massive Thurrock flagship store at the end of last month.
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The news won’t be welcome to everyone in the retail community here. For smaller independents, the firm’s boasts of top notch customer service will raise alarm bells – and larger chains like DSGi have just as much to lose by the presence of a large, cash-rich chain operating a very similar business model. Indeed, it didn’t take long after the announcement of Best Buy’s intentions on UK soil for speculation to begin whipping round about the possibility of a buyout.

DSGi is certainly liable to be feeling the heat this month, but the situation should really be kept in perspective. So far, Best Buy Europe has only announced the opening of six stores in the UK – albeit big ones – compared with the hundreds DSGi operates through its various brands. Unless things change dramatically, it’s hard to see DSGi being toppled from its throne any time soon. While retail will be keeping a careful eye on the US firm’s megastores, vendors and distributors have come out supporting its arrival, celebrating the growth in competition it is expected to spark (see our story here).

The low-key UK launch of fellow US firm in February couldn’t have been more different from Best Buy’s swaggering entrance. The firm is promising to cause a storm in the technology e-tail sector, and like the former, the e-tailer will be looking to solidify its position this year by brokering strong partnerships with vendors and distributors.

But while there may be little for retail to celebrate with the launch of Best Buy, has a number of ways smaller retailers can sell within its Marketplace network. Both US firms look set to have significant impact on the UK retail and e-tail scene in very different ways through 2010. How quickly the general public adopts them will dictate to what extent.


Think outside the big box

While various vendors and distributors have been quoted as being politely supportive of Best Buy, in the ?competition is healthy? vein, I?m sure that any independent reseller who finds one of the new mega-stores on the doorstep will be somewhat anxious about the impact this American import will have on their business.


Information technology has played a massive role in the UK economy over the last 30-odd years, but it is often overlooked as an issue in Parliament.

Superpower status

It?s easy to knock those at the top. A news story about PC World or Currys on the PCR site is almost certain to elicit a few negative comments. Usually they accuse the stores of being box shifters with little product knowledge. It?s an attitude DSGi acknowledges, and it understands that it?s a knock on effect from its business model of old, which to be fair was mainly centred around price promotions. It?s an image the group has been trying to get away from for a long time.

The season to be cheerful?

The IT retail sector is preparing for one of its most challenging year-ends in the last 15 years. So far, we have seen sales across all product groups fall by almost four per cent from January to August 2008 to the same period this year.

A breath of fresh air

It?s so nice to have confidence in the products you sell. A prime example is Windows 7. It?s a dream to install, set up, use and sell. So far it looks like the best OS from Microsoft. A lot of hard lessons have been learnt in the last few years, so let?s hope it can keep up with the good work. However, a problem still exists with the lack of repair options and product keys wearing out, so there is still a bit to do to make everyone happy.