Best Buy Leads, Wal-Mart Looms

By Amy Gilroy On May 17 2004 - 6:00am

Although it would not confirm TWICE Retail Report figures, Best Buy concurs it is the No. 1 player in car A/V and claims it increased sales last year in most mobile electronics segments.

Mike Manske, Best Buy's business team leader for mobile electronics, said: "We've seen great gains across core and new technologies. Based on XM's figures we're clearly the No. 1 satellite radio retailer in the U.S."

Best Buy achieved year-over-year increases in a down market by improving "retail execution," particularly in training salespeople, said Manske. "It's difficult to measure, but we've seen execution on the floor," he said.

Product-wise, the company is sharpening its focus on mobile video, navigation and satellite radio. It currently sells two in-dash DVD/monitors and expects to add more. In navigation, Best Buy carries portable in-car units from brands including Garmin and Magellan. Although it is looking into offering in-dash navigation, Manske notes, "ASPs even on the portables are $1,300. Really, the consumer has made their choice in our eyes — they like the ability to move the nav system from vehicle to vehicle."

Best Buy also added performance parts and accessories last year and continues to beef up its presence in that segment, recently adding Redline products. Manske said, "I believe most of that business is done at auto chains like AutoZone and Pep Boys, but we've expanded our assortment and we think that segment is a low-hanging fruit."

Regarding Wal-Mart's push into mobile electronics, Manske notes, "Any time Wal-Mart gets into a category we are concerned. It is a very mighty competitor. We believe we have a strategy that adds value for our customers, and we'll maintain our No. 1 position. We are aware they made a significant play with satellite radio this year, especially with XM."

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