Big Box, Little Box

by Matthew E May

Best Buy MobileHave you seen it? Best Buy 2.0, I mean. They’re going up everywhere. They’re less than 10% of the normal 40,000 square foot big box Best Buy. I’m not talking about the store-within-the-store structure they use for selling cellphones. I’m talking about stand-alones of the same flavor going up in malls and downtown areas.

Best Buy Mobile. Little boxes, just for cellular. Radically original idea? Nah. They bought half of Carphone Warehouse’s retail operations to form a joint partnership. Now they offer nearly a hundred phones from nine carriers. And borrowed from Apple: help customers set the darn things up and get them working before leaving the store.

And it comes at a time when a good number of retailers are closing their doors. They’ve got over 40 already in the U.S. Fourth quarter 2008 sales were nearly double that of the same quarter of 2007. And as everyone knows, fourth quarter 2008 was a retail nightmare.

All in all it’s a fairly elegant strategy, if you think about it: expansion through subtraction.


Matthew E MayMatthew E. May is the author of “IN PURSUIT OF ELEGANCE: Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing.” He is constantly searching for creative ideas and innovative solutions that are ‘elegant’ – a unique and elusive combination of unusual simplicity and surprising power.

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