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Best Buy Mobile unveils new mobile life stores

August 19, 2009

bestbuyBest Buy Co. Inc. is launching stand-alone stores in malls that aim to help customers try out, choose between and buy various mobile devices.

The new, larger Best Buy Mobile stores — called mobile life — will help customers navigate the wireless landscape by offering a full range of mobile devices, including mobile phones, laptops and other handheld devices, as well as teaching customers how the devices work together.

“Consumers live on the go, and it’s not just business people living a mobile life, it’s everyone, so we launched this concept with the needs of connected consumers in mind” Scott Moore, vice president of marketing for Best Buy Mobile, Richfield, MN. “When mobile technology is working it helps them, but when it’s not, it’s frustrating, because it slows them down.

“These new stores are not just mobile phone stores, they are ‘mobile life’ stores,” he said. “These new Best Buy Mobile stores add a new assortment of products, form GPS devices, mp3 players and Sling Boxes to cool fashion items, brands you won’t find in a big-box Best Buy store.”

“We can easily send the content they love at home to their handset or laptop and remove whatever is getting in the way of living their mobile lifestyle by making all the technology work together.”

The stores target mall shoppers that don’t traditionally shop at Best Buy’s big-box stores, such as women and younger shoppers, so-called tweens and teenagers.

Currently, this audience shops multiple retailers for many of their products.

Through the new store format, Best Buy Mobile will simplify their shopping experience, bringing mobile products and the carriers’ service plans under one roof.

Stores will launch in three mall locations this month: the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN, on Oct. 17; Fair Oaks Mall, in Fairfax, VA, on Oct. 17; and Woodfield Mall, in Schaumburg, IL, on Oct. 31.

The new Best Buy Mobile stores incorporate a specialized assortment of mobile products featuring mobile phones, ultra-portable notebook computers, mobile media devices and accessories.

Best Buy Mobile touts its employees as knowledgeable, non-commissioned associates, including Geek Squad agents.

A Geek Squad Precinct will be located within each store for all services needs.

Best Buy Mobile’s Walk-Out-Working program provides multimedia and smart-phone set up.

Best Buy Mobile offers product repairs, loaner phones and additional services that keep the mobile technologies up and running.

At 3,000 square feet, the new Best Buy Mobile stores are double the size of the original stand-alone Best Buy Mobile stores, yet not as large as traditional Best Buy stores, which average about 40,000 square feet.

Best Buy claims that the stores offer consumers impartial, informed advice in a boutique-like setting.

On tap at the new stores are Experience Zones, designated areas for customers to interact with the products and learn how they work with each other, as well as etching machines that tattoo mobile devices with personalized messages and/or photos.

Dedicated kids zones will give shoppers a nearby place to drop off the kids, yet still keep an eye on them while they shop.

Over the last two years, Best Buy has converted special sections of its 965 U.S. stores to Best Buy Mobile stores and launched more than 30 stand-alone Best Buy Mobile stores.

The conversion of the Best Buy Mobile store-within-a-store concept drove a double-digit gain in U.S. mobile phone connections during the second quarter.

Best Buy also experienced a nearly triple-digit gain in comparable store sales of mobile phones and accessories.

Best Buy Mobile was created as a joint venture with leading U.K. mobile retailer The Carphone Warehouse Group, or CPW, in 2006.

The stores feature a largest selection of carriers, handsets and accessories, as well as a highly-trained staff to help customers make the most of their mobile phones.

The Best Buy family of brands and partnerships collectively generates more than $40 billion annual revenue.

Its umbrella includes brands such as Audiovisions, the Carphone Warehouse, Future Shop, Geek Squad, Jiangsu Five Star, Magnolia Audio Video, Pacific Sales Kitchen and Bath Centers, the Phone House and Speakeasy.

The Carphone Warehouse is Europe’s largest independent retailer of mobile phones and related services, with more than 2,400 stores across nine countries.

The company claims to offer customers impartial advice across the widest range of handsets, networks and tariffs in the market.

“The Best Buy brand is the biggest asset that we have, and we chose malls on purpose for their inherent traffic,” Mr. Moore said. “Consumers are curious, so we went with a mall-based marketing strategy, with on-site promotions and events, in-mall signage and teams building relationships with merchants and the community.

“This is the test phase, so everyone can see that this brings a value proposition to consumers,” he said. “We’ll tweak the concept if necessary to find the right balance of products and services.”

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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