Why did Best Buy choose to launch now in the UK?
There’s a number of factors and it’s just that now is absolutely the right time for the business. We’ve waited – a lot of it’s around property, finding the right kind of sites and getting the right property agreements set up.
I know there was a lot of speculation and rumours about when we were going to launch and for us this is the absolute optimum time.
A lot of consumers probably still don’t know what Best Buy is. What is your strategy for tackling that?
There’s quite a strong brand campaign – that’s been very subtle for quite some time. Certainly within the local area we’ve been communicating on some of the more obvious things, the billboards, the local press, local radio.
There’s been quite a lot of noise about Best Buy in the market for some time so I think a lot more people are aware of it now than I would have expected but certainly in the local area whenever I go out wearing a Best Buy shirt, people always ask me when it's going to open. So in the locale it’s had a lot of attention already.
We’ve also been spending time building up a lot of knowledge and information on our Bestbuy.co.uk website. It’s going to eventually be a transactional website but for now it’s just inspiration, advice and a place where you can go and ask some questions about technology. All of that is linked into the Best Buy brand.
So when is the website going to become transactional?
The website is going to go transactional in autumn. We’re really keen to make sure we get the stores right first and the brand message and the connected store we want to give those customers – make sure we get that right first and then the online space will become transactional.
How do you think you or any of your competitors can compete with e-tailers like Amazon?
I think there’s a number of things that affect it and clearly price is always going to be one of them. You can go online and see the widest ranges of pretty much any product category, but you don’t have the advice to help you work out what’s right for you and help you understand what some of those technologies are to demystify them. You don’t have that reference point and you want to come in and touch and try and play with that product, that’s something that the internet doesn’t have.
Also I think in terms of the confidence that you’re buying the right thing for you that’s a very difficult thing to get. If you’re prepared to do hours and hours of online research then actually you can probably get to the point where you might be able to work out what you want but if you really want to come in and find out how these different devices talk to each other in terms of the connectivity and all the things you can have access to, that’s one of the key differentiators.
If you just played on price it doesn’t make any difference because ultimately everyone cuts to the same price, so I think it’s about giving the customer that in-store experience.
What do you think Best Buy has to offer that’s different from the competition, such as DSGi?
The unique selling point I think is the Blueshirts. They have a bit of personality, the right kind of attitude to just see someone come in the store and actually engage them in the basic conversation on what their needs are and lead them around the ranges and take them to the right product that’s suitable for their needs. They’ve got a little bit of personality and that in itself creates that trust with the consumer – that is really important.
The second thing for the stores is the experiential aspect. We’re keen to drive the whole connected message for this business; we know that people are buying all these devices and ultimately they want them connected to the internet or to talk to each other, so for us it’s about being able to communicate that to the customers and you have to be able to demonstrate that. In our laptop area, for example, they’re all hooked up to the internet – you can go and check your Facebook, your Hotmail and all the rest of it.
We’ve also got some ‘experiences’ at the back of the store where we can show what we call our three-screen strategy. There’s a sports fan zone, so there’s a big TV playing Sky Player on one side so you’ll be watching, maybe, the latest game. There’s a laptop which is also showing similar content where you can also watch your content wherever you are in the world and a mobile phone... So it’s trying to talk about all those things.
We have the gaming experience zone, we’ve got a 3D experience zone as well for TV and we’ve also got some 3D laptops at the front of the store and you can just play with them and someone will talk you through what the technology is.
Are you expecting 3D to be a major technology this year?
We love 3D, that’s why we’ve dedicated a very premium space in the store to make sure we can talk about it to consumers. We’ve got some really nice different branded TVs on the wall and the visual impact is amazing.
Customers when they get those glasses on and they can see that experience, they just really get how cool that is. So yes, it’s absolutely one of the key technologies this year.
To read the rest of our interview with René Wright, click here.