I'm curious how much longer I will be able to go check out and play with a new piece of electronics at Best Buy before going home and buying it online. Best Buy is on its way out and the only thing that saddens me is that there will not be really any stores left selling electronics in a retail store. This is something I actually know a lot about as I worked at Sears selling computers and electronics for several years. If you bought something from me back in those days, you likely paid more than at Best Buy, Circuit City, or Amazon, but you also got someone that was friendly and knowledgeable about the products you were buying. I knew that the cheap Vtech cordless phones got returned 5x more than the more expensive Panasonic ones and would tell you so. I knew not because of what I had heard or read, but because I had physically returned the phones myself. You can't find that kind of knowledge in many places any more in this industry. The majority of the people working in Best Buy today know absolutely nothing about the products they sell. The last few times I tried asking questions I was shocked at the answers they gave me. Not only were they not helpful and showing a complete lack of knowledge, but they were actually WRONG.
In my opinion, the only chance Best Buy has is if they focus on providing a reason to pay more to buy in a store. That's why I buy my running shoes at a local running store (South Boston Running Emporium) and not Amazon and why I enjoy going to Microcenter in Cambridge. REI also does an awesome job of this, every employee I've ever talked to there is passionate about the outdoors, friendly and helpful, and incredibly knowledgeable about what they are selling. Having someone to speak with that knows what they are talking about is worth paying for and it helps my local community. Best Buy doesn't know the products they are selling or really do much for my community, and unless that changes me and millions of other people will continue shopping there but buying elsewhere.
Read the great Larry Downes article in Forbes that inspired this post here.