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Where Best Buy Beats Amazon

Best Buy continues to lose ground to Amazon and other online retailers, experts say, even though the big-box chain sometimes boasts better prices.

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The company reported a 25% drop in earnings last quarter Tuesday, noting particularly weak sales of notebooks, gaming products, cameras and televisions. Interim CEO G. Mike Mikan says Best Buy can combat showrooming – when shoppers peruse at the store and then buy online — by upgrading its stores. “I know there are skeptics out there, I see the share price,” he told an investor conference call. “But I am confident we will prove the skeptics wrong.”

The chain’s solution to showrooming so far seems to be steeper discounts, experts say. People who buy online may now be paying a premium for the convenience of not getting off the couch, says Dan de Grandpre, editor of retail aggregator DealNews.com. In the past six months, DealNews.com listed 228 product deals sold by Best Buy. In those cases, “Best Buy had a lower price on that item than Amazon or any other reputable merchant,” he says. These include deals on everything from digital cameras to gaming consoles, he says. Of course, that’s not always the case, especially on big-ticket items, experts say. (Neither company responded to requests for comment.)

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And even when Best Buy beats the competition on price, the chain doesn’t always offer the best merchandise, experts say. Given the weak sales, the store tends to stock older, unsold gadgets for longer, says Mark Walters, manager of business development for TechBargains.com.

That said, when prices are equal, it can makes sense to buy some products in person, if only to test them. Large items like TVs are also better to buy in-store because of installation issues, the risk of damage in shipping and ease of return to a local store, Walters says. Physical stores also tend to be superior to online outlets when it comes to customer service and tech support, Walters says. The “Genius Bar” at Apple stores raised customer expectations, he says, putting pressure on Best Buy to improve its tech-support “Geek Squad.” Mikan told investors that the company is working to better train the “Geek Squad” to speak with “more authority” on technical issues.

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    • JG,
      I like how you were able to support your argument with examples, but I would love it if you actually knew what you were talking about. Best Buy’s return policy is 30 days on everything (they did away with the 14 day policy on certain items over 2 years ago. Everything bought between the middle of November and Christmas has a return policy of late January (about a month of use from the holidays).
      Also,
      To everyone who says they could buy it at staples or walmart cheaper, Best Buy will match their prices, hey, walmart won’t even match their own online pricing, but best buy will. I’m sorry, but I have had nothing but good experiences at my local best buy. They even replaced my high-end headphones when the wire got a little frayed, because I had the protection plan, you show me someone who has an extended warranty that will cover that!
      Oh, and for amazon, they have screwed me over more times than best buy, so has new egg, I bought a motherboard from them that was DOA and they had me get a replacement from the manufacturer.

    • Yeah all is about networking and customer service. Have a look at http://www.buy-beats.net if you are looking for instrumentals (if you are an artist or music lover) , we have a great customer service !

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