I clicked on the link for this article convinced I was wasting my time. I have nothing against Forbes, plenty of things against Best Buy (even if they were once a favorite destination of mine on pay day,) but I didn’t think this article would offer anything I didn’t already know.
I was right, it doesn’t; but, it is well written. It is a clear-headed, mildly annoyed piece that shills a bit too much for Amazon, even if it is correct to compare Amazon’s customer service to Best Buy’s customer service.
The implicit commentary in this article is: the major retailers who do not consider themselves responsible for their obviously self-destructive business practices will collapse.
Though, after reading the article, the conversation in my head led me somewhere familiar from an unfamiliar direction: large companies are making the recession exponentially worse by employing obnoxious and thoroughly destructive business strategies in order to survive the recession.
This is why Larry Downes’ comparison to Amazon is worth ignoring his incidental shilling. Larry is excited to shop at Amazon, and not excited to shop at Best Buy. In a time a world-wide depression, Amazon has continued to grow by large percentages, each year, and Best Buy has dwindled. The responsibility lies at the feet of Best Buy, no one else.
What I find more interesting, and barely implicit, is: how can Amazon do so well in such woeful economic times? Hasn’t every study during this recession proved that people are still willing to spend money, despite reports from companies that profits are down? Look at the list of the highest grossing films of all time, and see how many of them are from the last few years.
That’s not to say things aren’t terrible right now. They are. The job market is botch, companies everywhere are closing, and everyone is scrambling to grab hold of anything within reach. But whose fault is that if the vast majority of the populace is still spending tons of money?
A key passage from Downes’ article,
As a sometime business school professor, I could just imagine the conversation with the TV department manager the day before. “Corporate says we have to work on what’s called up-selling and cross-selling,” the clerk was informed in lieu of actual training on either the products or effective sales. “Whenever you aren’t with a customer, you need to be roaming the floor pushing our deal with CinemaNow. At the end of the day, I want to know how many people you’ve approached.”
Downes clearly hated his time at the Best Buy store because of this ineffective and invasive sales technique. That experience will prevent him from buying at that store, or from that company. The same is true for the issue of the impossible return policy. If enough people become disgruntled and cease to shop at the store, the store will no longer be profitable and it will close.
When the store closes, hundreds of people lose their jobs.
The company panics, and engages in even more obnoxious strategies deemed necessary because one store has already closed.
More people become more aggravated and cease to shop at the store.
Multiple stores close, and thousands, millions of people lose their jobs.
Obviously, things continue to get worse.
Panic, mixed with this repulsive approach to business, is making a bad situation worse.
But it’s not the fault of the consumer, because their money is still available and eagerly spent.
The retail industry has forgotten how to let people give them money.
As a side note, I didn’t see a single parking spot available at any Best Buy store I passed while I was in the suburbs.