Case Competition delves into big-box retail pitfalls
December 3, 2013Tweet
Electronics retailer Best Buy is helped and hurt by its reputation for being a great place to see and touch the products you want to buy. Sometimes, customers go ahead and make a purchase, while others will hunt online for better deals. Student finalist teams in the School of Management’s 22nd Case Competition – held Nov. 25 at the Anderson Center – discussed this mixed blessing and other issues affecting Best Buy’s bottom line.
Tiffany Choi, Jacinda Goicea, Cathleen Wang and Jiahao Zeng won the competition for recommending that Best Buy downsize its big-box stores in the United States, sell products from inventors who used crowdfunding site Kickstarter to raise money for their projects and apply GeekSquad protection to those goods.
“These inventors need Best Buy because they have limited funds for advertising and don’t have access to distribution channels,” Wang says. “Their products are increasingly innovative which means they must be seen to be believed.”
The finalist team of Daniel Bruck, Nick Carlin, Derek Ettinger and Yukihiro Tsuya recommended that Best Buy collect, mine and utilize big data. They also said the electronics chain should focus on exclusive products and private-label offerings.
“There’s an increasing number of competitors in the marketplace, which means prices are being driven down and it’s tougher to differentiate the Best Buy brand,” Ettinger says. “Consumer electronics are becoming commoditized. It doesn’t take much time for competitors to match features and the competition then becomes about price. That doesn’t bode well for Best Buy.”
Finalists Eli Enav, Elizabeth Francis, Vincent Lum and Zuhaib Qazi said the company could turn its showroom reputation from a weakness to a strength by signing exclusive deals with phone providers and product manufacturers. Underperforming stores, they said, should be closed and the remaining stores should be rebranded as smaller and friendlier places to shop.
“Consumers, in general, have negative views of superstores,” Francis says. “Discount wars have undercut prices and margins. On top of that, electronics are seen as a luxury item and not a necessity.”
Finalists will have their team photos displayed in the School of Management lobby and a notation placed on their academic transcripts. Vishal Gupta, associate professor of strategic management, coordinated the competition.
Judges were Keith Chadwick ’76, MA ’83, president and CEO, KDC Consulting Group; Kathryn Grant Madigan, partner, Levene Gouldin & Thompson, LLP; J. Edmond Morton IV, senior vice president, Chemung Canal Trust Company; and Gerald Putman ’76, MBA ’84, executive director of the Dr. G. Clifford and Florence B. Decker Foundation.