Tuesday, September 8, 2009
In the back to school college rush this weekend, I went to see if Best Buy and Laptop Hunters were lying to me. It turns out, only partially. The Windows World of PCs lived up to their promise of a lot of computer for under $600.
Best Buy though, not so much. Let’s just say it wasn’t an in-and-out in under :30 seconds deal.
I’m still waiting for a reply from the Twelpforce too. NOT MAD AT YA THOUGH*. But, this is where brands still don’t get it. You spend a lot of money on TV spots, but then an in-store customer experience falls way short and creates a branding disconnect.
It’s amazing that companies keep focusing their attention on social networks and “conversation,” but still ignore that last line of defense: The way customers experience their brand.
First, the displays.
Except for Notebooks, all the laptops are on counters that were above the height of a standard table, say 40” or so. (Not tall enough in my opinion.) But the biggest headache of the day were these security bars running across the middle of the laptops (see pic above), which prevent you from viewing the monitor at a normal angle while trying out the keyboard.
In effect, you could only open the laptop to no more than a 90° angle as you crouched down. You almost had to sit, but who does that when they try computers out? Not cool.
One of the things retail displays should never do is prevent access to the product. That’s just basic, no? Let me play with it and I’m more likely to buy.
(I don’t even want to hear that they’re lower so kids can get to them. Raise them up 12” so college kids and their parents can access them. I’m guessing the bigger the kid, the bigger the market.)
As for those notebooks, they were located up on counters that were a lot higher. Their smaller keyboards were able to fit under the security bars and allow the screen to open wider. Much easier to access—if I needed a Notebook, which I didn’t.
The sales staff?
Seriously very knowledgable and really nice, taking time to explain features and offers. That’s when you could find them though.
There was at least a 3-1 customer to salesperson ratio in the half-hour I was there. When you advertise a 2-Day laptop event over a Labor Day weekend, you better have enough staff to handle demand.
Then the usual things happen: Someone waiting the longest gets overlooked when a salesperson shows up, then asks the first person they see if they’ve been helped. (Those two people never being one and the same person of course.) All because there’s no system in place to determine who was there first.
It’s okay. When things are busy, institute a deli counter ticket system, I won’t be mad at ya.
Which coincides with another problem big box retailers have: Lot of staff in other departments hanging around joking but not coming over to help out in the busy areas.
But wait, there’s more.
The store manager had to be called over to open the cage where the laptops were. Not a problem, usually. Except, after you’ve been waiting that long, another five minutes to track him down is 4:50 too long.
The three of us who were ready to buy looked at each other and shook our collective heads. Collective I said.
I couldn’t help think though that this is really stupid stuff to deal with just to buy a damn laptop: I see the one I want—let me have it so I can go**. Cue flashback to Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross:
“A guy don’t walk on the lot lest he wants to buy. They’re sitting out there, waiting to give you their money.”
Are ya gonna take it Best Buy?
*I do this a lot with brands to see if they’re paying attention on social networks. A non-reply speaks volumes, donnit.
**My unscientific consumer theory: The more I spend, the less painful I expect the sales process to be.