Best Buy Exploring Electric Car Sales

Discussion
May 10, 2011
George Anderson

It began selling electric motorcycles and bikes in 2009
and now installs home chargers for the Ford Focus Electric and Misubishi’s
electric vehicles, so it’s probably not a complete leap that Best Buy
is looking into perhaps putting electric cars on its lots.

Chad Bell, senior
director, new business solutions at Best Buy, told Automotive News, "We
are having conversations with some of the startups. I would say the conversations
are going well. We are very excited about several partnerships that we can’t
talk about yet."

Mr. Bell believes that with over 1,100 stores in the U.S.,
Best Buy can be a force in the electric vehicle market. He said the company
is also looking to speak with established car companies about selling their
e-cars.

"We probably get more traffic in a weekend than some of these dealers
do in a month," he told Automotive News. "This is a long-term business
for us to be in."

Discussion Questions: Do you see Best Buy becoming a major force in electric vehicle sales in the future? Do you see other non-automotive retail chains following suit?

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17 Comments on "Best Buy Exploring Electric Car Sales"


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Fabien Tiburce
Guest
Fabien Tiburce
9 years 11 months ago

Excellent move, both short and long term. Short term, it generates a certain buzz which, for an electronics store, is not negligible. Long term, it cements Best Buy as an early entrant and gives it a strong head start over future competition (look at the head start Toyota got with the Prius).

Way to go Best Buy. When can I visit your stores to check out those electric vehicles? Hey, I may even pick some electronics while I am there…good all around!

Tony Orlando
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Interesting idea, but who will service the vehicle, The Geek Squad? If they’re smart, Best Buy should switch their Geek Squad cars to the all electric vehicles they might be selling.

Offer a test drive to consumers as well, along with a cool, complete car-audio system thrown in at the point of sale.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

It is a complete leap that Best Buy is looking into putting electric cars on its lots…if their intention is to sell them. Selling automobiles demands considerably more infrastructure and expertise than selling motorcycles and bikes.

Now if BB is saying they are going to develop alliances with auto dealers so that the dealers could use the empty parking lots for showcases, that is a different idea and makes some sense. Unless the electric car business turns from known auto manufactures to no-name start-ups, who would buy from BB rather than an authorized dealer?

This is a golf course idea, not a board room strategy.

Ian Percy
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Well it is electronics! A brilliant differentiator and exactly where the world is going!

I can’t afford the Tesla Roadster at the moment but I sure intend to. Something more economical in the meantime will get a very serious look.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

This is too big a leap to think Best Buy would be a factor in the electronic car industry. It might be better to stick with what they know best and not venture too far afield. I have a difficult time thinking about the typical Best Buy salesperson demonstrating an electric car when they have problems demoing some of the products already on the shelf.

Joan Treistman
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

For Best Buy the electric car is a natural extension. For car manufacturers it’s time to consider how they will position and promote their cars so that they are differentiated. Will they need representatives stationed at Best Buy?

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Retailers are in play-to-participate mode, not necessarily play-to-win. Electric vehicles are great for the brand, filled with wow, and oh yeah–they can certainly shave off a nice slice of market share since traditional dealerships are the real retail dino-stores.

Dick Seesel
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Sorry, I don’t agree with most of the other panelists. If I were drafting a “brand promise” for Best Buy, it would sound something like this: “We aspire to be the top-of-mind retailer for electronics and digital solutions when consumers think of newness, assortment, pricing and service.” To me, electric cars–like bicycles and exercise equipment–are the sorts of distractions preventing Best Buy from executing its mission at past levels (and in emerging businesses like tablets and smartphones) as quickly as possible.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Seriously? Sometimes I feel like being in retail is like being trapped in the movie “Groundhog Day.”

Am I the only one who remembers when Circuit City took a foray into selling used cars? Find it right here….

Here’s the situation as I understand it. Best Buy is getting whacked by online electronics sellers (including itself). Over the past 2-3 years, its reputation as customer service leaders has been severely compromised. Its cross-channel strategy is being outdone by companies like Sears. So its next move is to sell electric cars??? What about fixing what it’s got? Getting its cross-channel house in order? Rationalizing the organizational structure?

Given all that, it seems to me that deciding to sell electric cars is an odd choice.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

This sounds to me like one of those ideas you had during senior year in college, after a bad all-nighter with substances you wish you hadn’t ingested. Is Best Buy’s new strategy to sell anything that plugs in? What about hair dryers? Or those creepy massage chairs that you can try out at the mall? I don’t get it.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
9 years 11 months ago

I’m with Gene on this one. Selling cars is a different business than selling PCs and home theaters. For instance, who owns the inventory and where is it displayed? Who does the financing? Where does the service happen? Etc, etc, etc. Secondly, there is increasing discussion about the “real” size of this market and the relative cost of owning an electric vehicle. Given the enormous investment to make this viable, I think I’d go for a more proven business. Mark me as deeply skeptical.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

I see lots of hurdles for Best Buy to become a major force in electronic vehicles: space to display cars, repair, a dedicate sales force, and price space for meeting with consumers. However, it is an innovative move in expanding the “electronics” brand. Since they are in the “talking” stage, they have the time to see if the hurdles can be jumped.

James Tenser
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

It depends. What business is Best Buy in? If it’s home and personal electronics, then cars and gym gear seem like a stretch. If it’s high-consideration, low purchase-frequency, high-ticket consumer goods, with significant after-market service requirements, then electric cars and solar power systems, major appliances and elliptical trainers fit right in. Best Buy may be the most imperiled retail category leader since Blockbuster. It won its consolidation derby, but its core shopper behavior is changing so fast that it needs to reinvent itself in a hurry. Online competition isn’t making this any easier. I’d give Best Buy some respect for trying new ideas early and often.

Kai Clarke
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Best Buy needs to determine their focus and stick to it. All things to all people is not a focus. Cool things to cool people also lacks. What is BB’s business model, how does it work, and where does it derive its income from? These are critical questions for a company that lost business and market share over the last 2 quarters….

Larry Negrich
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

As they aren’t being too successful with their other product lines at this point they have plenty of room in their store that can be converted to showroom, service center, and parts department. And while a customer waits for a car repair they can watch a 3-D TV and play a video game. Think of the cross-selling opportunities! And talk about increasing share of wallet. “Would you like a car with those earbuds?” Sure, sell cars.

Mark Barnhouse
Guest
Mark Barnhouse
9 years 11 months ago

This sounds like a plan by a retailer desperate to turn numbers around for the benefit of stockholders. An entirely unsustainable idea that will not work for them either in the short term or long term. Best Buy, you’re not immune from catching the virus that did in Circuit City–what’s next, firing all of your experienced (productive) employees to save money?

Daryle Hier
Guest
Daryle Hier
9 years 11 months ago

Absolute desperation! Selling cars? I was in the business for a short time and it’s a nasty business anyway. And where are we going with electric cars? They aren’t green so why go in that direction? They aren’t the future unless we want to start firing up new coal plants for energy. I’m being polite but this is a dumb idea.

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