Archive for November, 2014

Electronics Retailer – Company Profile – Best Buy

Shopping has become a part of everyday life for many Americans. Large retail outlets line major roads of American towns and cities, enticing consumers with attention grabbing advertisements for products that vary from everyday necessities, to flashy toys that promise hours of entertainment. While many stores carry these entertainment products, like TV’s, computers, gaming systems, and mp3 players, there is one company that stands above the rest as the “dominant technology and entertainment retailer” (taitsubler.com) in the United States – Best Buy.

With a gross income of over $50 Billion in fiscal year 2011, and a net income of $1.227 billion, Best Buy Co., Inc holds one of the largest market shares in the consumer electronics industry, as they should. Best Buy, founded in 1966, is electronics merchant, whose stores are chock full of expensive electrical toys and tools. Stores are split into departments, each department specializing in a type of technology. Each store has a Home Theater, Computer/Tablet, MP3/iPod, Gaming, Digital Imaging, Car Electronics, Music/Movies, Appliances, and Mobile (cell phone) department, in which products and their accessories are on display.

Best Buy, striving to be a one stop shop for customers, also provides services to go along with their products. Through partnerships with companies such as Comcast, Dish Network, Time Warner, and Clear Wireless, customers can leave the store with connections to the internet, cable or dish TV, and phone services. Through the acquisition of Geek Squad in 2002, Best Buy is also able to offer repair and installation services on many of its wares, such as TV’s, computers, and appliances. In fact, Best Buy now brands all of its warranties and installation services with the Geek Squad name, and encourages customers to make use of their in-store service counters, where they can talk face to face with a Geek Squad agent about the issues that they are experiencing with their technology.

Geek Squad is not the only brand to be owned by Best Buy. Product brands such as Dynex, Insignia, and Rocketfish are all owned by Best Buy. These brands are mainly manufacturers of product accessories such as wireless mice (for computers), speakers, cables and cases, but both Dynex and Insignia are manufacturers of larger products, like TV’s. Having “house brands” is beneficial for the company because they lead to higher margins on those products, and Best Buy has greater control over product inventory levels and greater flexibility in the creation of new products to fit with market trends. For example, Best Buy was able to respond to the release of the IPad by creating several IPad accessories, such as cases and stands, through its brand Rocketfish. Not only did consumers benefit by having a greater assortment of accessories to choose from, but also from the lower prices that arose due to competition in the accessories market.

Other brands associated with Best Buy are Magnolia, a branch of the Home Theater department, in which higher end TV’s and speakers are sold, for those customers that desire above average performance from their TV’s and speaker set-ups, and Napster, which, up until earlier this year, was an attempt by Best Buy to enter the music streaming and download market. (Napster was recently sold to Rhapsody for an undisclosed amount.)

In November of 2001, Best Buy purchased another brand as well – Future Shop. Future Shop was an electronics dealer within Canada, and upon being purchased by Best Buy Co., Inc, was renamed Best Buy Canada Ltd. It functions as a largely separate entity of Best Buy Co., Inc, yet has a strong presence within the nation, grossing more than $5 Billion dollars in revenue.

Best Buy Canada is not Best Buy’s only international project; it has also launched stores in China, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, it has not been met with success in those regions. Best Buy recently closed all nine of its stores in China, but does have plans to pursue the consumer electronics market there with the opening of 50 new stores branded as “Five Star Electronics.” Best Buy, however, has pulled entirely out of the Turkey and U.K. Markets, closing down the two stores in the Middle Eastern country, and its eleven locations around Britain, with no announced plans to re-enter those markets.

Best Buy has had increasing difficulty with domestic expansion as well, facing stiff competition from other retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Target, who have recently put forth efforts to expand their electronics selections at increasingly competitive prices, and also from online retailers such as Amazon.com and Newegg.com, who are able to offer large selections exceedingly lower prices due to their low overhead. Best Buy stores have been called “Amazon’s showcase” by consumers who use the blue and yellow retailer as a place to see and learn about products up close before ordering them from another company online.

Ex Best Buy CEO, Brian Dunn, however, has an optimistic view of his company’s strategy for competing with these other companies. Bestbuy.com is Best Buy’s answer to online competitors, and has been called “extremely successful” by Dunn. It also has an advantage over Amazon and Newegg; the products ordered from Bestbuy.com can be picked up in store, which eliminates the cost of shipping. 40% of online orders are picked up in store, according to the article Best Buy Gets Squeezed which signifies that consumers do enjoy having this option available to them. Furthermore, items ordered online can be returned to brick and mortar locations, which consumers find convenient and reassuring. “In the future, physical stores alone will not be enough. Digital alone will not be enough. How they come together is what really matters,” says Dunn (Best Buy Struggles with Global Ambitions).

Brian Dunn’s confidence, however, is not shared by investors. Stocks, traded under the symbol BBY, have dropped from a high of $43.21 dollars per to a low of $21.79 in under a year, and though stock prices are recovering slightly, they are currently hovering around $28, a mere 65% of what they once were. Profits per share have also declined, according to Best Buy Gets Squeezed, with profit dropping from 47 cents a share to 60 cents.

In response, the company has cut down on the number of seasonal hires brought on board for the year, cut its employee discount (Best Buy currently has 180,000 employees, which is why this was considered to make a large impact in the bottom line), and plans on reducing its retail square footage by 10%, which will reduce operating costs. Despite this, end year profit expectations have been cut, company growth has continued to flat-line.

The economy has been to blame for the company, and the industry’s current woes. American’s have been spending more cautiously, lately, and with electronics considered more of a luxury than a necessity, consumers have been spending less in that area over the past few years. Furthermore, there have been few “must have” innovations in the electronics industry since the invention of HD and Plasma TV’s. 3D Television was expected to be the new HD by the industry, however was met with skepticism and lack of interest by consumers due to its lack of content and requirement of wearing bulky and expensive glasses while watching it.

There is some hope, however, for Tablet and on-the-go computing growth; and Best Buy has responded by creating extensive tablet displays within its stores, and providing extra training for employees in the Computer Departments. Mobile technology an area that Best Buy is looking to expand market share in. Best Buy Mobile departments and stand-alone retail stores carry cell-phones, and offer on the go internet services (called mobile broadband). Sales in this department are extremely lucrative because wireless companies such as AT&T and Verizon provide pure compensation for each contract signed by Best Buy Mobile customers.

Best Buy Mobile customers are also likely to be repeat customers. Their cell-phones are typically available for upgrade every two years, and Best Buy sends its customers upgrade reminder text messages, inviting them to come and check out the latest and greatest technology around their upgrade time.

Top 10 Reasons Why Businesses Should Adopt Beacons

The word “Beacon” actually means something visibly attractive or bright enough to convey a message or act as a signal. “iBeacons” is a concept originally introduced by Apple Inc. which is used as an indoor positioning and proximity based messaging system. As the concept gained popularity, several companies have emerged to manufacture hardware and develop mobile device applications exclusively for Beacon technology. Estimote, BluseSense and Onyx to name a few. But what’s so inviting? Why as a Company you should make use of this? These are the top 10 reasons:

Low IT Investment

Hardware associated with Beacons are low-cost, low-powered and can act both as a transmitter and a receiver. These pieces have Bluetooth chips embedded within supported by a lithium battery (similar to a wrist watch) and support a range of around 50 to 70 meters. Most of the top companies offer 3 such Beacon transceivers for less than 100 USD. Cost is a negligible factor here.

Rapid Kick Start

Rather than months or weeks, it just takes few days to put Beacons to work. Beacons are flexible that you can test them on a smaller scale to begin with and expand on-the-go. Once you define a set of marketing messages and configure which beacon to display what information, these transceivers can be stuck to any hard and dry surface like walls and that’s it! you have installed them.

Low Maintenance Cost

Compared to other Enterprise Applications and Marketing Software, Beacons completely avoid the hardware maintenance cost (except changing the battery and a Server) and incurs a very less cost towards managing the associated application, analyzing the results obtained from your customers and gain insights.

Automation at its best

Once they start working, human intervention is not required at all. Beacons will start push messages and display ad content such as images and videos as soon as the user reaches the range or according to the time interval set by the administrator. It doesn’t matter how many users are in the range at the same time. Beacons can handle things all by themselves.

Highly Sensitive towards Context

Context based advertisement is the key for marketing independent of the industry. Individual Beacon can be set to display targeted message based on a defined criteria (device used, location of the device etc.). A single Beacon can display multiple messages based on the context of the receiver.

Universal applicability

Industry Vertical is not a constraint as Beacons can be used in any industry. Find below a very minimal list of applications;

Guide your Customers:

  • Airports
  • Hospitals
  • Museums
  • Shopping Malls
  • Conference Halls

Display Ad Content, Offers and Discounts

  • Retail Shops
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants

Engage with your Employees/Students

  • Manufacturing Plant
  • Universities
  • IT Firms

Collect Customer feedback

  • Any Industry

And much more.

Make the business future ready

It’s evident that usage of mobile devices are increasing exponentially day by day. With this technology designed exclusively for mobile devices, you will enable a rock solid foundation for your business’ future as far as marketing and customer or user engagement is concerned.

Delight your Customers

It is already a proven technology which can provoke customer’s interest based on real-time and context sensitive engagement. Its rest assured that the customers or users will be delighted and enjoy such services.

Reduced Man-power investment

As you have an error free and automated guiding and marketing system in place, very less investment is required in terms of man-power to do the same.

Beyond basics – Analytics

As Beacons keep recording the happenings and also collect information from users (with their knowledge and permission) which can be stored and analyzed. The results can be used to gain more insights about user’s interest and design better campaigns. It can also be used to enhance existing content management system.

Key to Being Efficient in Business

Productivity hacks? Nope.

Time management apps? Nope.

Hiring and delegation? Nope.

The core of being efficient and effective in your business starts with YOU.

Your strength, your superpowers.

Being efficient and effective is not about having a cookie-cutter blueprint or a me-too tactic. You need the right strategies and customized plan to give you the biggest bang for you time- and energy-bucks.

The best way to make your business run efficiently is to tap into your strength, and design structures and systems to maximize the income-producing potential of your strong suits.

It is easy to talk a good game about tapping into our strength and being in the flow. But putting it into practice can take some mindset muscle.

Growing up, many of us were conditioned to be “humble” or not to show off our strengths (especially for women.) A lot of times, we discount ourselves thinking the things that come so naturally to us is not valuable, is “just how things are done.”

As a result, we are not deploying our genius in a way that will make our lives so much easier, at the same time generate more income.

Here is how to make your business more efficient and effective by tapping into your strength:

1. Find It

Of course, the first step is to identify your strengths. To acknowledge the abilities that you take for granted probably don’t come naturally to other people.

There are many tests and assessments to help you take this first step. The key is to translate your results into a business model and some smart strategies to support it.

I like to keep it simple – knowing a few of your top strengths can help you find your special blend of awesomeness and devise a unique positioning that will make you stand out in the marketplace. But too many of them can steer your focus away from your core strengths and make your message too confusing.

2. Claim It

After you find your strengths, it’s time to claim it because they are not doing you any good if it’s just shared between you and your cat.

“Claiming the hell out of it” is way more than a marketing tactic just to toot your own horn.The process also strengthens your mindset so you can step up and be confident in selling what you offer.

For most of us, we were raised to be “humble” and this preconditioning is sabotaging our success because we are afraid to talk about (let alone sell) our strengths.

The Fear of Not Being Good Enough and the Fear of Being Criticized can also barge in to hold you back from stepping up and claim your genius.

3. Articulate it

We are talking about business and to make a venture a business it has to make money, which means you need sell something.

To sell something means you have to be able to tell your potential clients why your products or services are valuable to them – why YOUR unique blend of strengths and superpowers is relevant to helping them solve their burning issues.

The process of articulating your strengths can also help you gain more clarity. When you have to “find your voice” to tell your story – you need to get clear on who you want to BE in your business, and who you want to be for your peeps. This clarity can become the guiding light for your long-term success.

4. Build Around It

After defining your strengths, it’s time to make sure your business is structured to highlight and utilize every ounce of it.

You can also create systems so the business and marketing activities that play to your strengths are put on autopilot as much as possible.

5. Sell It

A product or service sitting on the shelf won’t do you any good, and you can’t really call your business “efficient and effective” if it’s not making money!

That means you have to get comfortable with SELLING. For most coaches, consultants and service professionals, that means having sales conversations with potential clients.

You can take all the world’s sales trainings and have a dozen “scripts” collecting dust on your hard drive, but if you don’t have the right mindset behind your conversation, your results are going to be patchy as best.

Having the right mindset means you are empowered in your conversation, and you have healthy boundaries around money so you are not undercharging, over-delivering, constantly discounting or (god forbid!) giving services away for free.

All clients have their money stories, but ultimately, it’s OUR own money stories and projection that are holding us back. Imagine you can state the price of your high-end package with no charge, just like you are saying “give me 10 carrots so I can make you a stew!”

The confidence and ease you have in stating your price is proportional to how well you can sell.

6. Chuck It

As in, your weakness.

Stop beating yourself up for “not measuring up” in those areas. Stop fearing that you are “not good enough” because you are not “well-rounded”. Stop feeling you have to do everything everyone tells you, and excel in every single one.

Stop spending time, energy and money to make your weakness “better.” It will be mediocre at best and mediocre is not where the big bucks lie.

If something is not your natural strength, you can outsource it. You can find a partner with complimentary talents. You can structure your business so you spend minimal time in those areas.

But it doesn’t mean you look the other way. Knowing your challenges can help you set up systems and routine to mitigate those weak points.

Through her unique blend of Business + Marketing coaching with a Mindset + Psychic Twist, Ling Wong helps Maverick Entrepreneurs nail their message, claim their superpowers and muster up the GUTS to monetize their Truth so they can build a purposeful and profitable Personality-Driven business that is a full expression of their creativity and individuality.

Ling helps her clients claim their entrepreneurial identity and architect their personal brand story, then translate them into offerings and marketing communication that sell through her intuitive yet rigorous iterative process born out of her Harvard Design School training and 10 years experience in the online marketing industry.