Best Buy borrows Apple Store strategy for retail relaunch

Best Buy is borrowing some Apple-style retail polish for its "Best Buy 2.0" in-store experience, the company has confirmed, trialling a new approach to brick & mortar selling that it hopes will claw back from online sales. The test stores – described as part of the chain's "catch-up" by interim CEO Mike Mikan – feature a "Solution Central" help desk in the center, similar to Apple's Genius Bar, the WSJ reports, as well as increasing the options for paying for items in store.

"This is catch-up, if you will, but there's much more to come," Mikan insists. Best Buy has suffered considerably from what retail experts call "showrooming"; where potential customers uses the physical store to check out products, but then complete any actual sale with online merchants where prices are often more competitive.

Just as Apple Stores have mobile payment terminals with which employees can charge cards no matter where they are, Best Buy is introducing more points around its prototype stores where transactions can take place. There's also a greater emphasis on accurate and knowledgeable advice, with the retailer scaling back on the raw number of devices on-show and instead focusing on having a team that can talk about the virtues of a smaller selection.

Meanwhile, rather than focusing solely on the bottom-line, stores will be judged using various metrics including customer satisfaction, with those locations doing well at pleasing shoppers getting bonuses. The aim is to create retail locations where it "will be a place where customers want to congregate and learn how to get more out of their gadgets" and hopefully turn around the decline in average annual visits.

Best Buy has already featured a little slice of Apple retail in its stores, in the shape of dedicated areas where the Cupertino company's merchandise takes pride of place. Now, it seems, the retailer is hoping those areas will act as seeds and spread the sales success throughout the chain.