Best Buy Puts Geek Squad Services on eBay

Oct 09, 2012

Best Buy’s decision to test its Geek Squad services at 28 Target stores in the Denver area left some people scratching their heads. A discussion and poll on RetailWire in August showed significantly more seeing a benefit in the arrangement for Target than Best Buy.

Now come reports that the Geek Squad is branching out again, this time on eBay, with Geek Squad service plans being offered for three months ($29.99) and six months ($49.99). Consumers who purchase one of the Geek Squad plans can get around-the-clock service via the phone, online or in Best Buy stores.

The deal with eBay (neither company announced financial details) comes as Best Buy continues its push to expand the reach of its service organization. According to Bloomberg News, eBay provides a potential market from 100 million active users.

"They’re trying to make Geek Squad a ubiquitous, standalone brand that stands for great help around your technical problems," Stephen Baker, an analyst at The NPD Group, told Bloomberg.

Questions: Will the eBay/Geek Squad deal benefit neither, one or both parties? Are you for or against Best Buy promoting its Geek Squad as a “standalone brand” rather than a service offered exclusively through its stores and website?

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15 Comments on "Best Buy Puts Geek Squad Services on eBay"

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Dick Seesel

I was a skeptic about the Target deal, because Best Buy is helping to chase customers out of its own underperforming stores to another brick-and-mortar competitor. On the other hand, the affiliation with eBay is a smart move. It helps rebuild the “brand equity” of a key point of difference for Best Buy, and it helps drive profitable revenue for the company without depending on foot traffic in its own stores.

Bill Emerson
Bill Emerson
5 years 9 days ago

Best Buy faces the same dilemma that all big boxes relying on intellectual content (movies, CDs) for margin are facing. That business is going digital quickly with a major negative impact (Think Barnes & Noble). BBY is trying to figure out a way to grow its other high margin businesses and Geek Squad is one of them. They are trying out channels, which makes sense, while also building brand equity.

Max Goldberg

The partnership has direct benefit for both partners. Best Buy gains more attention and sales for the Geek Squad and gets people, whose tech issues cannot be resolved over the phone, into its stores. eBay opens another avenue to gain revenues. Both companies are currently suffering financially and need the revenue.

Conversely, I don’t see a fit for the Geek Squad in Target Stores. Target, Walmart and Internet retailers are direct competitors of Best Buy. Putting the Geek Squad in Target is more benefit to Target than Best Buy.

Ben Ball

The Geek Squad is one of the best brands BBY owns as evidenced by the number of copycat services popping up. They are absolutely right to leverage it into other retailers and channels.

While I get eBay — what I don’t get is why other traditional retailers would welcome the Geek Squad in. I’m sure the revenue is incremental and the service availability is appreciated by their customers. But those VWs running down the road scream “Best Buy” to everyone who sees them. Why have them in your parking lot?

Gene Hoffman
Gene Hoffman
5 years 9 days ago

Best Buy must be careful to get out of the eBay/Geek Squad plan only the benefits and clear wisdom that is in it. As Geek Squad penetration is expanded via wide eBay exposure, and it will be, it will place high expectations to perform with a much larger audience and to do it in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

That spells “opportunity” and if the Geek Squad can perform to those expectations, it increases the likelihood that the Geek Squad will become a “standalone brand” and open new growth horizons.

But this “experiment” also reminds me a wee bit like the cat that sits down on a top stove and feels the red hot heat. She will never sit down on a hot stove again — and that is good. But she may not sit down on a cold stove anymore either. Since Best Buy needs new roads to future success — hot stove or not — let’s hope the Geek Squad is well prepared to perform well and thus will benefit both Best Buy and eBay.

Ken Lonyai

Unless eBay is putting up funds, there’s no downside for them. For Best Buy, this appears either like a move to put the Geeks in a life raft to save them from the sinking ship or another stab in the dark looking for something that works. To me, it seems like a blow to saving their b&m presence since you can get Geek Squad help anywhere with out setting foot in a store. And… high rent storefronts don’t do well with out customers setting foot inside.

Many BrainTrust colleagues have described the Geek Squad as a unique differentiator or value-added bonus BBY can offer customers over the ever encroaching competition. Putting them out in the world, especially cyberspace, means for example, a customer can price shop and find a better deal than BB offers (say save $30) and then get Geek Squad support for the cost of the savings. Where does that leave Best Buy?

Cathy Hotka

I understand the desire to create a standalone brand. What I don’t understand is the service itself. I’m a Geek Squad subscriber, but the 5-6 days it takes to fix a PC is way too long, in my opinion, compared to the hour or two it takes in an Apple store.

Mel Kleiman

Great move on Best Buy’s part, as long as they deliver a great experience. But that is always the case. Great experience equals great brand loyalty and a competitive edge.

Technology is high maintenance and anything that helps the consumer make the maintenance easier is going to help build a brand.

Phil Rubin
5 years 9 days ago

Best Buy is smart to test this given the challenge of competing in the consumer electronics space. Amazon is the best in terms of its customer obsession and this won’t overcome that, but Geek Squad leverages a differentiating aspect of Best Buy: people that solve technology problems.

Joel Rubinson

I feel like Best Buy is adrift at sea. They are taking distinct assets that differentiate them and give people a reason to walk into their stores and comoditizing that service by making it available elsewhere. For what, a little extra cash?

The big thing is to right the retail ship and the problem is more about not understanding how to succeed with etail than it is showrooming or any of this small stuff

Robert DiPietro

I’m for Best Buy promoting the Geek Squad brand as a standalone — quick, name a national brand that can help with PC tech support?

Geek squad is in a unique position to create a ‘sticky’ customer engagement as you can’t showroom tech support or TV installation.

Who benefits with the eBay deal? Maybe it’s the first ever win/win.

Brian Numainville

This is a smart move for Best Buy providing that they can deliver on the promise made. In today’s world, Best Buy has to find ways to leverage things like Geek Squad to compete. And Geek Squad is a recognizable brand with a good reputation in the technology area where people always seem to need help!

Mark Price

The eBay/Geek Squad deal should benefit both brands. For eBay, the deal addresses one of the biggest barriers to purchase from their site, which is service and support. Knowing that the GS are there to make sure purchases are successfully installed and work will drive incremental value to eBay in both new and repeat purchasers.

For Geek Squad, the goal is to monetize the substantial investment that BBY has put in place, by helping customers with the more common complaint around technology. Not only does this work to add customers and cash flow, but it also provides a customer base that may decide to purchase from BBY based on the GS support.

Ed Rosenbaum

I rather think this deal will benefit Best Buy significantly more than eBay. To eBay, how can this be more than another source of revenue? To Best Buy, this is another test line in the water to see if the “fish” will bite. eBay and Target give Best Buy a strong indication of how or if they should move forward with having the Geek Squad as an independent revenue source.

Matt Schmitt

Geek Squad has always had a great brand, and I believe it has strong brand equity in and of itself in the minds of many consumers.

I think it’s great to see other retailers and online sites taking advantage of the Geek Squad value proposition, rather than trying to build capabilities in house from the ground up.

And kudos to Best Buy for this approach. I think it’s great.


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