Best Buy’s big problem - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Best Buy’s big problem

Raise your hand if you recently made a purchase on Amazon.com and were happy with the experience.

Yes, I’m sure everyone has a hand in the air.

Convenience and price confidence is king for today’s consumer, and that’s bad news for the BlockbustersBorders, and Best Buys of the retail world.

Best Buy in March announced it would close 50 U.S. stores this year—cutting 400 jobs—and over the weekend, the company notified all of the stores that wouldn’t survive.

Two Maryland locations made the list – the stores in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and in Hunt Valley. Best Buy informed the store’s employees of the pending closures on Saturday; the locations will close by the middle of May.

“This was not an easy decision to make,” a Best Buy statement read. “We will be working to help these employees find other positions inside Best Buy. If they don’t find new positions, or if they choose not to work at a different location, a transition including severance packages will be available.”

Best Buy will continue to operate 15 Baltimore-area stores—10 “big boxes” and five stand-alone Best Buy mobile stores.

Amazon and other online retailers have made life miserable for brick-and-mortar sellers, as consumers can click their way through a purchase on their smartphone during their lunch break, and have the product waiting on their doorstep the next day.

On top of that, Amazon in recent months released a “Price Check” application for phones that ensures shoppers are getting the best deal on their new TV, laptop, or video game console. Anyone walking around a Best Buy today can use his or her phone to take a picture of the product’s bar code, and the application will provide the current price through Amazon.

And consumers love it. Amazon ranked No. 1 for best customer service among U.S. retailers, according to a January survey from the National Retail Federation. In fact, two other online retailers—Zappos.com and Overstock.com—also ranked No. 3 and No. 4 on the list, respectively.

“The top retailers on this list found effective ways to win over shoppers not only with low prices, but also stellar customer service and value-added features such as unique mobile applications, free shipping and unforgettable in-store experiences,” NRF Foundation Executive Director Kathy Mance said in a statement.

For more of this story see Direct Deposit.

(Feature photo by Erik Hoffman)



About the author

Andrew Cannarsa

Andrew Cannarsa has been writing professionally for almost 10 years, first as a crime and safety reporter at a community daily newspaper outside Philadelphia, and then as a business reporter at Baltimore Examiner. He graduated with a journalism degree from Boston University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @cannarsa. Contact the author.
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