Best Buy wrestling with a midlife crisis


Best Buy’s midlife malaise is a cautionary tale about the dangers of staying stagnant in business when an industry changes.

I remember back when Circuit City failed, there were all these predictions about how Best Buy would become an unchallenged monster in the electronics field. Wow, it didn’t play out that way. Best Buy is now seeing sales drop quarter by quarter for the last year and half.

What happened? They used to own electronics retailing. But in business, if you don’t change with the times, you get sliced up. Best Buy failed to adapt to the Internet era.

I’ll admit it’s a tough business; you have people who come in and get info and then turn around and buy the product the product elsewhere on the web for less money. Compounding that, Best Buy chose to build bigger and bigger stores with less and less personal service at just the wrong moment. Not a good idea.

Best Buy has always had good to great management, so now that they’re being pounded by Wall Street, I hope they figure out how to reorient to much smaller stores and more personal attention to shoppers. That would probably be the best way for them to rethink their business.

In your own business, are you aware of the changes going on and how to adapt them?

I’ve noticed in the quick serve restaurant segment, more and more chains are adapting to customer wants. I’ll give you an example: We were in Appleton, Wisc., the heart of America’s dairy land, and Culver’s had a vegetarian burger for Christa, my executive producer who happens to be a vegan. Even in Northern Wisconsin, people want vegetarian or vegan choices I guess!  This quintessential Heartland chain has adapted to its customers.

Take a cue from Culver’s. In your own life, never stop learning because life never stops changing.

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