Did Apple just hand Best Buy the keys to its retailing empire?

Discussion
Photo: Apple
Jun 21, 2019
George Anderson

Apple announced on Wednesday that nearly 1,000 Best Buy stores are now authorized as repair locations for all its products. While there’s no doubt that Best Buy’s fleet of stores and its in-home Geek Squad technicians will help Apple owners find more places and ways to get help, will it also entice many of these same people to buy their tech products at Best Buy rather than at Apple’s stores?

“This will drive traffic to Best Buy stores,” Michael Pachter, managing director at Wedbush Securities, told CNN. “If the repair is something that will take an hour, the consumer will be captive in the Best Buy store and likely to purchase something.”

With the addition of the Best Buy locations, Apple will now have about 1,800 authorized third-party locations outside its roughly 300 U.S. stores to handle repairs. Apple reports that the addition of Best Buy will now mean that roughly 80 percent of its product users in the U.S. will be within 20 minutes of an authorized service provider.

“If a customer ever needs to repair their products, we want them to feel confident those repairs are done safely and correctly,” said Tara Bunch, Apple’s vice president of AppleCare, in a statement. “We’re always looking at how we can reliably expand our network of trained technicians and we’re excited to partner with every Best Buy store so it’s even easier for our customers to find an authorized repair location near them.”

“We love being there for our customers no matter what their Apple need is, from helping them choose the right device, to offering AppleCare protection and now helping fix their devices,” said Trish Walker, president of services at Best Buy. “We’ve always enjoyed a great partnership with Apple and we’re thrilled that, together, we can better serve our customers.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see more pros or cons to Apple’s decision to name Best Buy as an authorized repair provider? Will some of the people who typically shop for Apple products at the brand’s own stores or website now go to Best Buy?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"This is good for both companies, and Apple gains a fleet of Geeks to help their product line stay in working order."
"It works for me: 30 minutes to the Apple store; 10 minutes to Best Buy – where I already rely on excellent tech help from Geek Squad!"
"There’s plenty of room for for Apple and Best Buy, and this strategy will not cannibalize any of the Apple store’s business. "

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19 Comments on "Did Apple just hand Best Buy the keys to its retailing empire?"


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Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

I think it is an acknowledgment that the focus is moving from the Genius Bar concept one used to find at the Apple stores into a commoditized product category anyone can do.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Another big win for Best Buy! And for Apple and for Apple’s customers. Apple enjoys what is probably amongst the highest levels of loyalty that a brand can enjoy. By giving Best Buy a thumbs up for repairs of Apple products they just made life easier for millions of Apple brand loyalists. And created increased foot traffic for Best Buy. And relieved themselves of any pressure to invest in opening their own stores in smaller markets. Multiple wins on multiple levels.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

This is a calculated move by Apple. If one brings an Apple product for repair to a Best Buy store, they are already — by definition — an Apple customer and probably an Apple loyalist. Additionally, the product crossover between the two retailers is limited. I think Apple will withstand the exposure.

Tony Orlando
BrainTrust

This gives more access to people getting their products and, more importantly, service instead of finding an Apple store in a high rent district 100 miles away.

This is good for both companies, and Apple gains a fleet of Geeks to help their product line stay in working order.

Art Suriano
BrainTrust

I see more good than bad with this new arrangement. Apple still has excellent potential for increasing market share, especially with their computers. The more consumer opportunities for awareness, trying the product and now repairs, the more Apple has a chance for that to happen. Indeed, Apple has always suffered from not being the “business” machine of choice in the PC world, but as the cloud continues to take over how we function, there becomes less and less that one cannot do on a Mac and only on a PC. Moreover, there have always been many features of Mac computers that PCs do not offer. So the exposure is ideal. All the Best Buy customers will now not only take notice of Apple products but Best Buy will be promoting their Apple repair services in-store as well, letting customers know that if Best Buy supports Apple 100 percent, perhaps they should consider purchasing one. Whether the customer purchases Best Buy or Apple, Apple ultimately still gets the sale!

Harley Feldman
BrainTrust

Having Best Buy be an authorized Apple repair provider will result in several benefits to Apple. More repair places convenient to Apple devices owners should take some pressure off overcrowded Apple stores, and provide an opportunity for shoppers to purchase Apple accessories at Best Buy stores while shoppers wait for their repairs.

Ron Margulis
BrainTrust

I take this announcement at face value – Apple extends the range of its services while easing the pressure on its in-store staff and allowing them to do more selling, and Best Buy gets to market a new service with a great reputation that Amazon and Walmart don’t have. Surprised it didn’t happen earlier.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Just as Fortune 100 retailers are leveraging the Amazon platform to sell their products, Apple is simply expanding their products, services, scale and reach with the partnership with Best Buy. This is a clear win-win for both Apple and Best Buy. Best Buy has experienced a retail renaissance, and their stores are already a go-to destination for products and expertise, as well as their Geek Squad offerings.

There’s plenty of room for for Apple and Best Buy, and this strategy will not cannibalize any of the Apple store’s business. What this very tactical strategy does is offer the loyal Apple customers a choice as to where and when they could have their devices serviced. This along with certified Apple repair specialists will drive even more traffic to Best Buy.

It’s all about winning for both brands.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

A clear win-win for both Apple and Best Buy! Apple recognizes their 300 stores cannot reach every Apple customer within a reasonable distance for service and turning Best Buy into an authorized service center for their products simply provides more reasons for loyal Apple fans to love the brand even more. Best Buy stores already had an Apple store within a store to sell Apple products, so I don’t see this as “stealing” any additional sales from Apple stores – shoppers getting service at the Geek Squad counter are already Apple customers. This may also be an attempt by Apple to address the perception of crowded Apple stores where customers can’t get noticed by Genius Bar staff quickly enough. This is a great win for Best Buy as they further enable service revenue in their stores, continuing their great retail transformation.

Herb Sorensen
BrainTrust

It works for me: 30 minutes to the Apple store; 10 minutes to Best Buy – where I already rely on excellent tech help from Geek Squad!

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

This is a win for both companies. Best Buy has sold Apple products for years but this adds a layer of legitimacy akin to their other “Geek Squad” services. As to Apple, the move gives its customers some “safety in numbers” — meaning that Best Buy has a much bigger store footprint than Apple, so customers can feel confident buying an iPhone if they had any doubts.

Ananda Chakravarty
BrainTrust

Best Buy has been selling Apple products for years, now they’ll be able to service them. This move is overdue but perhaps the luster of the Genius Bar has faded enough to encourage taking advantage of Apple’s goal of expanding their service reach. Given that customers are holding onto their Apple devices longer, this is a powerful play for Apple. Apple can concentrate on sales, engagement, and delighting the customer instead of addressing problems and concerns. They’ve put their solution in the hands of the company with the best branding and capacity. A strong match and downside is minimal. You’ll go into an Apple store to upgrade and buy next-gen stuff, not fix your old iPhone 7.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

This is a big win for Apple. They have become far too big to handle this kind of action through their stores. I know. I tried a simple iPhone repair last weekend and it was nearly a week before I could confirm an appointment at an Apple store. Best Buy was able to confirm for an appointment within a few hours.

It’s also a win for Best Buy because they draw people into their stores and an Apple connection helps them look far more interesting.

Sure, it’s personal. But I was quite pleased with my repair at Best Buy and love that Apple has authorized them.

Rob Gallo
BrainTrust

Nice move by both companies. With just 300 stores and an ever growing installed base of iPhones, Apple needed to find a cost-effective way to have customers get needed services without increasing the store base. This could actually increase brand loyalty. Best Buy now gets added credibility by being an authorized Apple partner, added traffic and a chance to sell its own goods and services.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

They just outsourced repair. Smart. Spend more energy on the experience of their spaces themselves vs people in line to fix things. Great move.

David Naumann
BrainTrust
David Naumann
Vice President, Retail Marketing, enVista
1 month 8 hours ago

This is a smart move that will benefit Apple, Best Buy, and most importantly, Apple consumers. Apple stores are not conveniently located for many customers and when you need your Apple products serviced, it is oftentimes an “urgent” issue.

While this may cannibalize some of the Apple store and online sales, as more people may want to purchase their Apple products where they will get it serviced, an Apple sale is an Apple sale. Overall, it should drive some incremental sales of Apple products. Another benefit for Apple, is that is will limit the need to invest in a lot of new stores, as they can rely on Best Buy’s real estate investments.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

This makes sense for Apple – and a great opportunity for Best Buy. More outlets to have the phone repaired is about easier access for customers. Apple is always thinking about what will be good for the customer.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

This is clearly a reflection of Apple’s understanding that their phones need a reliable, accessible, timely, way to be repaired. It also increases Apple’s exposure and forces them to train more Best Buy employees on how to correctly do this, but exposes Apple to poor Best Buy compensation and employee retention practices. The true question will become how is the customer experience for Apple, inside a BB store? Only time will tell how Best Buy manages their employees in terms of compensation, benefits, training, retention, workplace satisfaction and overall happiness.

Tom Dougherty
BrainTrust

It’s a nice win for Best Buy, but it doesn’t hurt Apple one iota. Getting Apple products repaired means those people remain Apple customers. Have you tried getting an appointment at the Genius Bar? You can wait hours. Apple needed a repair partner.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"This is good for both companies, and Apple gains a fleet of Geeks to help their product line stay in working order."
"It works for me: 30 minutes to the Apple store; 10 minutes to Best Buy – where I already rely on excellent tech help from Geek Squad!"
"There’s plenty of room for for Apple and Best Buy, and this strategy will not cannibalize any of the Apple store’s business. "

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