Hubert Joly: Apple’s Surface jibe shows shift in mindset

By Max Patmore

BBC Scotland Business, General and International News

Hubert Joly had a distinguished career as a consultant before becoming the chief executive of Best Buy. He made a far-reaching claim on his first day in the role when he said that the retail giant had “become a friend to the consumer, not vice versa”. He received a warm welcome from investors in his first quarterly results, which boosted its share price by 9%. The company has recently been hit by competition from online shopping and intense competition from the likes of Amazon. Best Buy has been criticised by analysts for profiting from middle-class consumers who are overstretched and want a certain kind of product, rather than the full range. Problem faced The problem that Best Buy is facing is a classic modern one, fuelled by more than a decade of unprecedented technological change. Apple is the poster child for the coming onslaught in digital entertainment and it is an observer who asks whether people are prepared to pay a premium price for an iPad for having it delivered to them. If you want to make a consumer happy, sell them a 100% worthy product which was never yours and they will pay more for it

Hubert Joly, Best Buy But today’s store environments can hardly be faulted. Putting shopping on the move in multistorey car parks and full-width stores is a sight for sore eyes. A third of all searches from tablet PCs in Europe are made by mobile phones and more than half of those are only partially read out loud. But there is a limit to how much digital connectivity you can apply to a retail shopping space. Sometimes, the consumer clicks and stays. The famous piece of retail information once proudly displayed on the wall of a store will one day be upstaged by something on the television screens in a nearby convenience store. A movement is underway to increase connectivity to a point where retailers can start reaping the benefits of enhanced personalisation and analytics and even psychological manipulation. Best Buy stands to benefit and so does Best Buy’s CEO Hubert Joly, who has sought to reassure investors that his store is central to the future. Joly has only been in the job for a month. But analysts believe it is yet another sign that there are the beginnings of a change in the wind for old world retail.

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