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Best Buy Reinvents Itself, Again, As The World Around It Restructures


Smelling blood, the pundits are circling
Best Buy.

Their arguments are now familiar,
if debatable: Best Buy’s stores
are a showroom for e-tailers; Best
Buy’s real estate is an albatross;
Best Buy overextended itself overseas;
Apple, Amazon and Google
are CE’s new ascending stars.

What’s forgotten in the chatter
is how often the company had
been written off over the last five
decades, whether it was the tornado
that toppled a Sound of Music
store, the showdown in Chicago
with No. 2 CE chain Highland Superstores,
the controversial switch
to a non-commissioned sales force, or the bad gamble on
an outdated PC platform that nearly crippled the chain in
the 1990s.

Granted, the stakes are far greater today for the now
global Fortune 500 company, but in both good times and
bad Best Buy has always inculcated a culture of reinvention.

Indeed, Brian Dunn reminded
shareholders of that in his very first
address as CEO. The company has
succeeded by breaking old business
models before they became
obsolete, he noted, and will continue
to “embrace challenge and

Today that metamorphosis continues
as the retailer repositions itself
for a new generation of customers
that carry the world’s collective
knowledge in their pockets, and for a
next-generation of connected devices
that will transform the way they live.

In the process, Best Buy is literally betting the store
on a multichannel future in which brick-and-mortar melds
with e- and m-commerce, and showrooms remain a desired format to see, feel, demo and learn
about CE devices.

To that end, the company is running full
throttle to beef up its web presence, broaden
its basket of support services, build out
its Mobile shops, bulk up its gaming and appliance
businesses, and transform its flagship
stores into what Dunn describes as the
“digital playgrounds” of the future as it focuses
on a connected, four-screen strategy.

On the following pages Best Buy’s senior
management provides a rare look behind
the scenes at the complex machinery that’s
guiding the evolution of the $50 billion business
as it works to remain relevant in a rapidly
changing world.

Whether the company will prove naysayers
wrong again remains to be seen. But
based on history, betting against the Best
Buy brain trust could prove costly. Just ask