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From TWICE's 2017 Top 100 Consumer Electronics Retailers Report: The Top 15

No 1, Best Buy: Having snatched the No. 1 CE chain from the jaws of obsolescence, CEO Hubert Joly is now looking to solidify his gains and position the company for a service-focused IoT future. Our Take: The strategy works if Samsung and others continue supporting those massive box stores with branded shops.

No. 2, Amazon: With its highly profitable Cloud computing business and robust third-party seller network offsetting its low-margin merchandise assortment, ain’t no stoppin’ Amazon now. Our Take: The compelling Echo-Alexa combo has allowed the House That Bezos Built to take an early and formidable lead in the connected-home category that even Google will find tough to overcome.

No. 3, Walmart: Long viewed as a Death Star by independent and specialty tech retailers, the evil Emperor’s crown has since been passed to Amazon. Our Take: The Bentonville bunch is still struggling to bridge the mass/class divide in CE, but continues to dominate with its fearsome 4,600-store sell-through.

No. 4, Apple Stores: While its sales per square foot remain among the highest in retail, recent moves to enhance the in-store experience, plus a rare single-digit decline on the Top 100, suggest that this apple may have worms. Our Take: The downturn could be attributed to the current mid-phone cycle; we’ll know more after the much-anticipated iPhone 8 is released this fall.

No. 5, Costco: The No. 1 warehouse club continues to retain a loyal, membership-paying customer base whose dues help keep prices l-o-o-o-o-w. Our Take: We’ve always been fans of Costco’s narrow but expertly assorted good-better-best array of TVs, computers and accessories, making the chain a big-box anomaly with its high single-digit sales growth.

No. 6, Target: The No. 2 discount chain was late to the party with flat-panel TV, and is making amends with early and aggressive IoT forays using dedicated connected-home displays. Our Take: Tech remains a step-child to Target’s core home and apparel categories, and new store formats have yet to compensate for a digital business that still hasn’t found its footing.

No. 7, GameStop: The world’s No. 1 gaming specialty chain is coming under increased pressure from vendor-direct software downloads, exacerbated by last year’s new-platform interlude. Our Take: Seeing the writing on the wall, GameStop is pouring resources into its mobile and collectible chains, whose performance is outshining its flagship shops. Perhaps a greater in-store PC presence could add some sizzle to the showrooms.

No. 8, Newegg: Newegg remains the leading tech-specialty e-tailer with a heavy emphasis on PC components and peripherals, and a dedicated DIY following. Our Take: Man cannot live by motherboards alone, and Newegg has accordingly diversified into the B-to-B and educational channels — and ancillary home, healthcare and even apparel and toy categories — with mixed success.

No. 9, Micro Center: Talk about an anachronism. This regional PC specialty chain hearkens back to a time when the marketplace could support a CompUSA, yet continues to thrive amid universal availability of laptops. Our Take: Service remains the chain’s not-so-secret sauce, to be supplemented with a greater A/V assortment after joining the ProSource buying group.

No. 10, Dell: Michael Dell’s namesake business remains the largest direct-to-consumer seller of PCs and peripherals. Our Take: Expert channel management has helped the company maintain healthy retail relationships with mass merchants like Walmart and Costco, while its main thrust remains enterprise-level solutions.

No. 11, Sam’s Club: The No. 2 warehouse club skews its assortment toward a higher-income consumer than its sister chain Walmart, and tends to have a deeper selection than archrival Costco. Our Take: Sam’s Club may still be finding its CE footing after moving the department’s longtime tech chief into a new corporate role.

No. 12, Sears: Consumer electronics are in a tailspin at Sears, which is attempting to transition the category into a connected-home services business. Our Take: Sears Holdings regularly issues two sets of comp sales with its earnings reports — with and without CE. ’Nuff said.

No. 13, Office Depot: With its merger plans dashed by federal regulators, the No. 2 office-supply chain, which itself absorbed No. 3 OfficeMax, now must go it alone sans Staples. Our Take: Sadly for both chains, the acquisition by Staples might have been given a green light by the current anti-regulation administration.

No. 14, Staples: The No. 1 office supply chain made a strong argument for channel consolidation, now that it must vie for ink and paperclip sales with Amazon and other mass merchants. Our Take: After forays into e-readers, mobile phones and smart products, Staples is refocusing on commercial sales opportunities.

No. 15, Fry’s: The closely held company continues to cater to the build-your-own PC enthusiast, albeit within cavernous big-box showrooms. Our Take: Fry’s offers an oddball mix of motherboards, meals, major appliances and everything in between, which continues to make it a destination for consumers of all ilk.


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