Challenges ahead as Apple and Best Buy expand Mac program

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Apple and Best Buy have internally announced plans to scale Mac sales beyond their previously stated 600-store goal, but will soon face real estate-related obstacles that could challenge further expansion, AppleInsider has learned.



Thus far, the duo has established catchy store-within-a-store boutiques at approximately 500 Best Buy retail stores, according to comments made during Best Buy's recent quarterly conference call. That's up from about 200 stores just twelve months ago, and close to the 600-store goal announced by Apple in January.



The elaborate kiosks showcase the better part of the Mac maker's personal computer lineup and vary in design by store. However, the most recently layouts (below) have featured mini theaters that are anchored by thick matte black walls with glowing Apple logos, embedded LCD screens and stereo sound systems. Mac systems are typically spaced graciously on trademark wooden tables, while accessories are hung on nearby racks.



People familiar with the ongoing program expansion say Best Buy and Apple are now striving to install Mac boutiques at all of Best Buy's stateside locations. The next phase was announced privately last month when the retailer issued an internal memo outlining plans to enroll 40 more stores in the program by the end of July. Once complete, Apple and Best Buy will have surpassed their stated 600-store goal, scaling Macs sales to approximately two-thirds of US-based Best Buy stores.



Growing the program beyond the July phase is where things may get tricky, those familiar with the situation say. They note that the remaining 300 or so stores are only around 30,000 square feet, considerably less those that have already gained Mac kiosks, which range anywhere from 35,000 to 50,000 square feet.







As such, those people say that planogram architects are struggling to devise a best course solution for working the sizable kiosks into the remaining floor plans. The matter is somewhat complicated, they add, by Apple's mandate that it be provided a prime location within each store by which the Mac boutique is clearly visible to shoppers. As such, it's possible that expansion could pause temporarily until a solution is found or a compromise made.



At the same time, however, any temporary slowdown in the US expansion is likely to be mitigated by the fact that Apple is now exploring Mac sales at some of Best Buy's international markets. For instance, the first Mac kiosk in mainland China cropped up at the Best Buy store in Shanghai's Xuhui this April. Best Buy has since said it plans to open three more of the Mac stores in China by the end of the year.



Shoppers take Macs for a spin at a San Francisco Best Buy in January 2008 | Copyright AppleInsider.com



Though failed partnerships between Apple and major electronic retailers in years past led industry watchers to doubt the company's entry into Best Buy when it was reported in June of 2006, experts now cite the move as one of the larger forces helping to drive Mac sales growth.



Ben Reitzes, an equity research analyst with Lehman brothers who's been following Apple for years, says his checks indicate that Best Buy isn't just presenting the Apple image, but is actually pushing healthy volumes of Macs out of its in-store boutiques.



"We believe that Best Buy has helped Mac growth, culminating in reported 51 percent yearly unit growth last quarter overall for Macs," he said. "Our checks and NPD data back our view that sell through for Macs is strong at Best Buy, not just sell-in."



Globally, Best Buy operates more than 1,150 stores. In addition to locations in the United States, Puerto Rico, and China, the Richfield, Minn.-based retailer also runs shops that could serve as future Mac distribution points in Canada, Mexico and Turkey.



AppleInsider readers are encouraged to report their experiences at Mac-equipped Best Buy stores in the forum thread for this article.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 45
    willgonzwillgonz Posts: 30member
    I live in an area where we don't have an Apple store. The closest one is 4 hours away. We do have 3 Best Buys within a 50 mile radius. One of them sells Mac in store like the article. Every time I go in there all the Best Buy employees are helping people buy PCs but not the Macs. Apple really needs some of their own staff at these locations to really make the program successful.



    WillGonz
  • Reply 2 of 45
    kasperkasper Posts: 941member, administrator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by willgonz View Post


    I live in an area where we don't have an Apple store. The closest one is 4 hours away. We do have 3 Best Buys within a 50 mile radius. One of them sells Mac in store like the article. Every time I go in there all the Best Buy employees are helping people buy PCs but not the Macs. Apple really needs some of their own staff at these locations to really make the program successful.



    WillGonz



    Thanks for the feedback. Apple reps read these forums so it would be beneficial to the cause if other readers post their recent experiences at Best Buy stores that sell Macs.



    Best,



    Kasper
  • Reply 3 of 45
    zerockzerock Posts: 1member
    just to let you know, both Best Buy Stores in Puerto Rico, already have Apple Shops in them, and are the new ones with the big screen



    Since we don't have an Apple Store here in PR, i rather go to best buy than an authorized dealer.
  • Reply 4 of 45
    crebcreb Posts: 276member
    I don't know which is becoming worse:



    1) Apple stores with their now Disneyland boppy styled employees who lookup information on Apple's own website if you ask them a question versus actually knowing the Apple product line, or



    2) brain-dead Best Buy employees who are more interested in when their shift ends?
  • Reply 5 of 45
    lafelafe Posts: 252member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kasper View Post


    Thanks for the feedback. Apple reps read these forums so it would be beneficial to the cause if other readers post their recent experiences at Best Buy stores that sell Macs.



    I travel for business, and I love to stop at the local Best Buy and see if they have Apple

    gear, how it's set up, who's manning the mini-store, etc.



    I've been to six or seven BB stores with Apple stores 'within' them, and generally I find

    them to be well-stocked and generally clean (eye-appealing, etc.) but the staff is either

    non-existent or totally clueless about Apple products.



    I've read a lot of complaints on these forums about BB/AppleStoreWithinAStore staff,

    and it seems that adding more staff or trying to train the current staff would not do much

    good. Maybe the design of the kiosks has to be improved to pretty much sell

    the stuff through interaction. Maybe the Macs themselves have to call out to

    passersby and invite them to click through a short demo or something. The human

    angle just ain't cutting it.



    Lastly, I must say that I LOVE that photo of the people at the Apple table!

    Don't they seem to represent a cross-section of Apple-heads? You've got the

    college-looking guy, you've got the kid who uses macs at school and is clearly planning

    to get his parents to buy one, you've got the artsy older fellow who looks like

    he might be a composer or somesuch, and then you've got the intrigued-looking

    person (or is it confused?) who is clearly a PC user thinking about switching.



  • Reply 6 of 45
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by willgonz View Post


    Apple really needs some of their own staff at these locations to really make the program successful.



    WillGonz



    Many stores do have Apple employees at the table during peak hours.
  • Reply 7 of 45
    crebcreb Posts: 276member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Lafe View Post


    Lastly, I must say that I LOVE that photo of the people at the Apple table! Don't they seem to represent a cross-section of Apple-heads? You've got the college-looking guy, you've got the kid who uses macs at school and is clearly planning to get his parents to buy one, you've got the artsy older fellow who looks like he might be a composer or somesuch, and then you've got the intrigued-looking person (or is it confused?) who is clearly a PC user thinking about switching.



    Well, you are partially correct: The kid is obviously a Mac'r; the artsy fellow is a Dell manager; college-looking guy is a college dropout who is now a chronic gamer; the beer-gut guy is looking at how the table is made as he in construction; the person that can not be seen, behind the gamer, is in witness protection.



  • Reply 8 of 45
    djames42djames42 Posts: 298member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by willgonz View Post


    I live in an area where we don't have an Apple store. The closest one is 4 hours away. We do have 3 Best Buys within a 50 mile radius. One of them sells Mac in store like the article. Every time I go in there all the Best Buy employees are helping people buy PCs but not the Macs. Apple really needs some of their own staff at these locations to really make the program successful.



    This has been my experience at both Best Buy, and formerly at CompUSA as well -- both stores seem (or seemed in the case of CompUSA) to be staffed with people who were not only ignorant about the Mac, but in most cases, quite bigoted against them. One of the salesmen at CompUSA came up to me when I was looking at their Mac display and tried to lead me away, talking about how difficult it was to get the Mac connected to a wireless network. He was displeased when I asked him if he'd ever heard of an Airport device, and how Apple took WiFi mainstream with it (which may be a bit of a stretch, but I wanted the guy to realise just what an ignorant boob he was).



    My experience at Best Buy wasn't a whole lot better; I sat at an iMac for about 15 minutes playing with GarageBand and nobody even acknowledged my presence, much less asked if I needed any help.



    I think that, for those who have no access to an Apple store (I fortunately live within easy drive of at least three of them) and are already keen on buying Apple products, the store-within-a-store idea is great. But for those who haven't given them much consideration and need someone to tell them why they should do, having a pretty display but no dedicated sales people is not going to encourage a lot of sales.
  • Reply 9 of 45
    zinfellazinfella Posts: 875member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by djames42 View Post


    This has been my experience at both Best Buy, and formerly at CompUSA as well -- both stores seem (or seemed in the case of CompUSA) to be staffed with people who were not only ignorant about the Mac, but in most cases, quite bigoted against them. One of the salesmen at CompUSA came up to me when I was looking at their Mac display and tried to lead me away, talking about how difficult it was to get the Mac connected to a wireless network. He was displeased when I asked him if he'd ever heard of an Airport device, and how Apple took WiFi mainstream with it (which may be a bit of a stretch, but I wanted the guy to realise just what an ignorant boob he was).



    My experience at Best Buy wasn't a whole lot better; I sat at an iMac for about 15 minutes playing with GarageBand and nobody even acknowledged my presence, much less asked if I needed any help.



    I think that, for those who have no access to an Apple store (I fortunately live within easy drive of at least three of them) and are already keen on buying Apple products, the store-within-a-store idea is great. But for those who haven't given them much consideration and need someone to tell them why they should do, having a pretty display but no dedicated sales people is not going to encourage a lot of sales.



    Here in the Phoenix area, the CompUSA stores had Apple people in them. I don't know what happened to the people when CpmpUSA went belly up, they might be at a Best Buy store. Since I don't like Best Buy, and won't even enter one of their stores, I'll never be able to see for myself.
  • Reply 10 of 45
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,783member
    When I was soliciting bids for a new roof on my house I asked a trusted friend for a recommendation. His response was that any roofing company is only as good as the guys on the roof pounding the nails in. It doesn't matter how long a company has been in business, how committed they say they are to customer service, how good their prices are. If the guys pounding the nails in are not skilled or motivated the resulting job will be less than satisfactory.



    If the local Best Buy floor clerks are still like they were years ago then this experiment will fail just as it did then. At my local Best Buy right now they try to steer people away from the iPod. Ask a floor clerk about Mac compatibility for a wireless router and you get a deer-in-the-headlights stare. Their whole sales floor culture is so Wintel engrained it's amazing.



    Anyway I'm not holding my breath over this as far as my local Best Buy store is concerned.
  • Reply 11 of 45
    maclvr03maclvr03 Posts: 188member
    I recently when to my local Best Buy that had a "boutique" in it. I have to say it was the worst service I had. I went in to buy an adapter and needed some help selecting which one to chose. I asked 2 people to find me someone to help me. There was literally not one Best Buy employee even near me. After 15 minutes with no one still coming I left and guessed which adapter to buy.



    I know this would never happen at an Apple Store...
  • Reply 12 of 45
    So far I've been rather impressed with the BestBuy/Apple deal. The one BB I visited had an impressive display and the items were in working order which certainly wasn't the case with CompUSA. Of course I wasn't there to buy anything so I can't speak for their customer service (although I was in the store to buy an HDTV and couldn't get anyone to help me so.....).



    I actually saw the MacBook Air at BB before I could get a chance to go to the Apple Store.
  • Reply 13 of 45
    webheadwebhead Posts: 75member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zerock View Post


    just to let you know, both Best Buy Stores in Puerto Rico, already have Apple Shops in them, and are the new ones with the big screen



    Since we don't have an Apple Store here in PR, i rather go to best buy than an authorized dealer.



    Best Buy stores in Canada already have Apple shops in them as well. Not sure why this article states they will come in the future??



    As far as the quality of sales persons in these stores, I find the level of product knowledge and quality of service from the sales people in most big box electronic stores to be very poor for all of the products, not just for Apple products. I try my best to avoid sales people in these types of stores as they are so annoying to deal with and never know the answer to any question other than where do I pay for this. I usually know more about what I'm buying then the sales person. If you want real in depth service you need to go to a higher end store, luckily for Apple products there are the Apple stores, My Apple store is opening in Edmonton, Alberta Canada this coming weekend, July 5th. Can't wait!!!!!!
  • Reply 14 of 45
    webheadwebhead Posts: 75member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post


    When I was soliciting bids for a new roof on my house I asked a trusted friend for a recommendation. His response was that any roofing company is only as good as the guys on the roof pounding the nails in. It doesn't matter how long a company has been in business, how committed they say they are to customer service, how good their prices are. If the guys pounding the nails in are not skilled or motivated the resulting job will be less than satisfactory.



    If the local Best Buy floor clerks are still like they were years ago then this experiment will fail just as it did then. At my local Best Buy right now they try to steer people away from the iPod. Ask a floor clerk about Mac compatibility for a wireless router and you get a deer-in-the-headlights stare. Their whole sales floor culture is so Wintel engrained it's amazing.



    Anyway I'm not holding my breath over this as far as my local Best Buy store is concerned.





    Totally agree. Go into any big box electronic store and ask to buy a stereo, or a TV and the sales people will be glad to sell you a JVC, Sony, Yamaha, Samsung, LG etc. etc..... This is the same for almost all of the products these stores carry, except for computers. When it comes to computers these stores are full to the top with windowz using video game playing geeks that not only know nothing about Apple products but are actively steering you towards windowz products. this whole culture needs to change, these sales people need to be made by their managers to be pro apple no matter what, it's a product that the store sells and all sales people should promote Apple sales as much as other computers.
  • Reply 15 of 45
    pk22901pk22901 Posts: 138member
    Here in VA we have a great BB and kiosk. It's manned by a knowlegeable Apple employee (formerly a BB employee flown to Cupertino for training.). He works 40 hrs a week leaving many hours of unmanned kiosk.



    They might hire another 1 or 2 for the Xmas rush, but I've been told by the store's mgr that 1/3 of all computer sales are Apple!



    Since Apple has about 8% of the computer area and since they account for about 2% of the computer in the store, I think the arrangement is working very well. (We are not including iPod and accessory sales here.)
  • Reply 16 of 45
    webheadwebhead Posts: 75member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pk22901 View Post


    Here in VA we have a great BB and kiosk. It's manned by a knowlegeable Apple employee (formerly a BB employee flown to Cupertino for training.). He works 40 hrs a week leaving many hours of unmanned kiosk.



    They might hire another 1 or 2 for the Xmas rush, but I've been told by the store's mgr that 1/3 of all computer sales are Apple!



    Since Apple has about 8% of the computer area and since they account for about 2% of the computer in the store, I think the arrangement is working very well. (We are not including iPod and accessory sales here.)



    1/3 is a great number. I wonder if this is true on average for all BB locations. Hopefully the strength and growth of Apple sales will bring a real change in the sales culture for stores like BB, that would be great.
  • Reply 17 of 45
    djames42djames42 Posts: 298member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by webhead View Post


    This whole culture needs to change, these sales people need to be made by their managers to be pro apple no matter what, it's a product that the store sells and all sales people should promote Apple sales as much as other computers.



    Well I don't know about pro-Apple, but not being anti-Apple would be a good start!



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by webhead View Post


    1/3 is a great number. I wonder if this is true on average for all BB locations. Hopefully the strength and growth of Apple sales will bring a real change in the sales culture for stores like BB, that would be great.



    Perhaps my poor experience at Best Buy was due to the fact that I live in Seattle -- close enough to Redmond, that the vast majority of locals are overly influenced by Microsoft. I can count on two fingers the number of people I know in the area who would even consider a platform other than Windows.
  • Reply 18 of 45
    kreshkresh Posts: 379member
    We used to have a CompUSA store in Greensboro, NC. Inside the CompUSA store was one of the the most product loyal persons I have ever met in my life. He was the Apple Rep (Hi Mike I hope you are reading this). I don't mean he is a superficial fan boy, I mean he is really passionate about how Apple positively changes people's computing experience!



    I was disappointed when I found out that CompUSA was closing. What a great day when I learned that Best Buy in Winston-Salem, NC was putting in an Apple kiosk. Thankfully Mike wound up being shifted from the closed CompUSA to the Best Buy store.



    Needless to say Mike has sold me several Macs, iPods and accessories. It just so happens that all my family lives in Winston-Salem and Mike is now selling Macs and iPods to them too



    My nephew also works at the same Best Buy as Mike, he started working there a year before the kiosk was installed. I gave him my Mac Mini G4 when I retired it and we talk all the time. I regularly ask him about how the other Best Buy employees feel about Macs.



    To say that when the Kiosk first opened that there was a wholesale hatred of Apple is not an overstatement. I don't know if it's because most of them love Xbox and transfer that love to all things Microsoft, or what it was, but there was definitely no love for Apple.



    Mike has spent time with each Best Buy employee that works on the floor and it seems to have worked. Previously when a customer started asking questions about computers they would take people to the HP stuff. That has changed quite a bit, now the Best Buy employees (there are still some hold outs) regularly take customers over to the Apple kiosk and hand them over to Mike.



    There has been a fundamental change in attitudes by the Best Buy staff concerning Macs. I don't know if it was Mike's personal efforts, the simple presence of an Apple specialist in the store, or pressure from Best Buy corporate, but things are especially bright for Apple at the Best Buy store in Winston-Salem, NC!



    Enough pumping up Mike and Apple



    North Carolina's not that populated a state (# 12 or so in the US), and the tri-city (Piedmont Triad) area is only about 1.2 million people. Apple is now putting in an Apple store in Greensboro and I can't help but wonder how this is going to affect the Mac sales at the Apple kiosk. How do the Best Buy stores do in markets where there is an Apple company store?



    Sorry for writing such a long post.
  • Reply 19 of 45
    wood2395wood2395 Posts: 2member
    These are really nice, in my opinion. I recently bought a 20" iMac, about a week before the latest refresh. After I learned about the refresh, I mentioned to the Apple rep at the kiosk my disappointment in missing the refresh, and he told me I had 14 days to bring my receipt back to Best Buy and they'd give me a discount for the now lower selling price. Turns out the versions I bought were since selling in the Best Buy Outlet store for $200 less, so they refunded me $205 (including tax), no questions asked. What a great deal. I'd rather buy at an Apple store, but the nearest one is 60 miles away. BB's right down the street. Great merger, IMHO.
  • Reply 20 of 45
    macpeb70macpeb70 Posts: 3member
    best buy have bought a large share in the uk mobile phone company carphone warehouse which bought out tandy in the uk some years ago apple put a mini store in tesco as a tester but never followed it up perhaps this could be move to open up mini stores at the cw thay also bought aol in the uk so the have everything what could be needed plus they sell the iphone just a thought\
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