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Mobile Hears Big Footsteps

A short while ago, we wrote a blog about Radio Shack’s rebranding itself (See Blog HERE) as primarily a mobile product carrier. At the time, we predicted that Radio Shack would have a difficult time competing on Function with Best Buy. Though, it would be more Convenient than the average Best Buy. (See “Video #26: Example of the Customer Buying Hierarchy at Work” on StrategyStreet.com.)

Best Buy is ramping up its mobile product investment now. The company has created 80 stand-alone mobile stores from a standing start in 2006. It may add as many as 100 new shops this year. In addition to these stand-alone shops, BestBuy Mobile operates as a separate store within all 1,000 of Best Buy full-sized stores.

The company has set itself up to be able to catch the mobile wave without committing itself to high costs over the long term. The BestBuy Mobile stand-alone stores average 1500 square feet of footprint. The stores within the regular Best Buy stores are only 600 square feet. These stores compare with an average of 40,000 square feet for a regular Best Buy store. (See “Audio Tip #188: The Efficiency of the Input” on StrategyStreet.com.) The small footprint allows the company to offer fast-growing products in Convenient mall locations near consumers, especially women consumers. In a few years, when growth slows, the company can withdraw from these small locations at relatively little cost and fold the mobile business back into its large regular stores.

BestBuy Mobile looks to be the Function leader in this market. It offers ninety different handsets and service plans from nine carriers. They offer products that work on the networks run by all four major wireless carriers: AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA.

BestBuy Mobile offers clear advantages over the stores run by the wireless carriers. Their prices are lower. Pricing is also clear and easy, with no mail-in rebates. And the company promises that the customer will leave the store knowing exactly how to use their phone in what the company brands as its “Walk Out Working” product promise. This promise is both a Reliability and Convenience benefit.

Everyone else in the industry must be hearing Best Buy’s big footsteps.

Posted 7/8/10

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