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Feb 28 2013

The Changing Face of Tech Retail

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It was not many years ago that we I went to a big box store to shop for technology. CompUSA, Best Buy, Circuit City and others got a portion of my tithe to the temple of tech.

Obviously, the internet has changed much of that and two of those companies are no longer with us. Let us observe a moment of silence.

OK, that was long enough.

Pricing won over immediacy as service and knowledge declined at the box stores. If I knew more than the sales person about the product I was seeking out, why would I pay a premium for it?

Than Apple declared that only they truly knew how to present and sell their products. Only Jobs could give the customer the experience they didn’t know they wanted just like only his distortionate majesty could tell the teeming throngs what product they wanted.

Apple stores were clean, happy places that welcomed all comers. More importantly they were at the Mall.

As a self-respecting geek, any mention of “the Mall” elicits groans of pain and eye rolls.

This movement is not about me. It is all about broadening the base of users and making the intimidating approachable. I was behind a grandmother on a line to get on a plane this week. She calmly pulled out her iPhone and used a QR code to board the plane. I got a little misty watching it!

Apple is not the only one that thinks they are the best positioned to sell their own product. Witness this at a mall in Nashville.

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Your eyes do not deceive you. Griffin is following the Apple model and rolling out accessories. Granted they are hometown in Nashville, but still the thought process that only they can really present their accessories (which are well represented in that Apple store just down the hallway!) is interesting.

Best Buy is in a cold bore panic attempting to reinvent their retail market as can be seen by their mobile stores and Kiosks.

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The kiosks really confuse me. Do people really slap their palms to their foreheads and say, “Oh, I meant to bring an iPod?”

The range of pop-up spots for fix it services, cell phone sales and even the Microsoft surface tablet is daunting. Can you really call it a “Microsoft Store” if you cover it up with canvas at the end of the day?

It all comes down to this. It is not just the geeks buying the gear anymore. If the mall is the environment they are comfortable purchasing in then the economics will support it.

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