Big-box retailer Circuit City went belly up in 2009 thanks largely to the encroach of Amazon. The widespread expectation was that rival Best Buy would soon follow. But it's now about a decade later, and, surprise, surprise, the chain is actually "thriving in the age of Amazon," as a story by Susan Berfield and Matthew Boyle at Bloomberg explains. It gives much of the credit to various strategies of CEO Hubert Joly, including turning Best Buy stores (there's now more than 1,000 in North America, with 125,000 employees) into "showcases" for companies such as Apple and Microsoft. Joly, in place since 2012, also likes to say, "You won't get me to say a bad word about Amazon," maintaining that "there is a lot of room for both of us." In fact, the story highlights a new strategy that takes advantage of Best Buy's physical presence around the US, an advantage it has over the online giant.
The last five years or so have been about "getting people into Best Buy stores and onto its website," says the story. "Best Buy’s future will be about getting its people into homes." How? Think "personal chief technology officers," as the company calls them. Best Buy is training a specialized staff to make free house calls to talk with homeowners about what they might do. Yes, the company already has the Geek Squad, but those workers focus on troubleshooting and setting up equipment. The new team is being coached on how to spend 90 minutes or so with prospective clients and not come across as pushy. "Be a consultant, not a salesperson," is the advice given in one training seminar. Click for the full story, which has more particulars on the strategy and the company's financial state, along with an interview with Joly. "Everyone thought we were going to die," he says. (Read more Best Buy stories.)