Best Buy's new retail layout borrows heavily from the Apple Store

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Best Buy is in the process of testing out a new in-store layout that looks and feels almost identical to an Apple Store. The idea is to focus on customer and employee interaction rather than showcasing every possible gadget and electronic component available, but some analysts are reserving doubt as to whether Best Buy can succeed with the proposed business model.

The company recently opened the test store near their headquarters. Best Buy 2.0, as interim CEO Mike Mikan calls it, is anchored by a large central help desk, known as Solution Central, staffed by the Geek Squad. Customers are allowed to check out here or at other locations throughout the shop, rather than being corralled through checkout lines at the front of the store.

Analyst Christopher Horvers from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. says that improving service is a big challenge for Best Buy, especially considering that their current in-store workforce consists largely of young part-time workers.

Others are also concerned that Best Buy isn’t doing enough to attract customers and deter them from comparing prices and ultimately shopping elsewhere. It’s a real concern as Best Buy says that half of their shoppers use mobile phones or tablets to check the competition’s prices before making a purchase.

The new format is part of Best Buy’s transformation plan announced earlier this year which will see 50 retail stores close and 400 employees lose their jobs. 60 stores will initially be converted to the new format which is about 20 percent smaller than a traditional Best Buy store. New stores will focus more on tablets, e-readers and smartphones and less on television sets and other products that have had declining sales as of late.

As the idiom goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

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