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Best Buy Continues Sales-Floor Fix With Windows Shops

6/16/2013 08:00:00 PM Eastern

MINNEAPOLIS — Best Buy will continue its sales floor revamp this month as it updates 500 computer departments to a new Windows Stores format.

The move, revealed last Thursday, follows the rollout of some 1,400 Samsung Experience Shops to all Best Buy flagship and Mobile stores this spring, and provides a more formal merchandising alternative to the dedicated Apple sections within 740 of the chain’s 1,000-plus big-box stores.

President/CEO Hubert Joly had hinted that additional vendor shops may be in the offing as part of his effort to garner greater sales productivity from Best Buy’s floor space.

According to a company spokesman, the latest effort essentially represents a refresh of the computer department, while Microsoft chief marketing officer Chris Capossela described the change as “a department-level takeover within Best Buy stores.”

The Windows shop will retain the current PC section’s size and locations, and will continue to offer a range of brands and products that utilize the Windows OS. Windows-based phones, tablets and Xbox gaming systems will also be represented within the re-christened departments, and will continue to be merchandised within Best Buy’s mobile and gaming sections.

Apple products and Google Chrome notebooks will still be available within the computer department as well, albeit outside the Windows-designated area, the Best Buy spokesman said.

Like the Samsung and Apple sections, the Windows shops will be manned by a mix of Microsoft-supplied sales staff and specially trained Best Buy associates.

The re-merchandised areas will range from 1,500 to 2,200 square feet and will include an “innovation space” demonstrating the interoperability between Windows devices; a stand-alone display of Microsoft Surface; and a showcase section with the latest Windows- based mobile devices and PC form factors, such as Ultrabooks, convertibles, detachables and all-in-ones.

The remodels will begin later this month and are expected to be completed in September, and a virtual version of the shops will be available online at BestBuy.com/WindowsStore.

Best Buy will also open Windows shops in 100 Canadian locations.

Retail analyst David Strasser of Janney Montgomery Scott lauded the move as “another important alliance.”

“As attracting consumers to their ecosystems becomes increasingly necessary to the success of these tech giants, the importance of Best Buy as an agnostic vendor dramatically increases and the value of their real estate increases,” he observed.

Indeed, Tami Reller, chief marketing officer and chief financial officer of the Windows division at Microsoft, acknowledged that the new concept “offers a large-scale, hands-on customer experience … We’re pleased to partner with Best Buy in bringing the latest technologies to consumers at scale in a unique environment.”

Added Best Buy computing VP Jason Bonfig, “What our customers will see in these 600 stores is something totally new and fully in line with our determination to transform.