Best Buy takes cue from Apple in new retail store design

Company's prototype stores are smaller, give more space to mobile products, and allow consumers to pay in several locations around the store.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
Greg Sandoval/CNET

The Apple Store has become an educational case on what to do right in the retail sector. And it appears Best Buy has taken notice.

The retailer is testing out a new prototype that cuts down on floor space and uses a help desk, run by Best Buy's Geek Squad, as the focal point of the company's layout. The Geek Squad desk allows customers to ask questions and handle issues. According to The Wall Street Journal, which took a tour, the desk closely resembles Apple's Genius Bar.

According to the Journal, that's not all Best Buy is mimicking. The prototypes are set up to allow customers to pay for products in a host of places throughout the store, and make product displays a bit less congested and more Apple-like, by using salespeople to share knowledge and ultimately sell products.

Best Buy is in desperate need of some changes. After Brian Dunn resigned as CEO and founder Richard Schulze left the board, the company appears rudderless. There is now talk of Schulze taking the company private in a leveraged buyout.

On the retail side, Best Buy plans to shutter 50 of its underperforming U.S. stores, sparking concerns that it may be on the decline.

Whether a new store design will help Best Buy remains to be seen. The company's prices are, in many cases, higher on the same products customers can find online. What's worse for the company is that many consumers simply go to Best Buy to see a product and then buy it online for a better price.

To make its stores more enticing, the Journal says that Best Buy is reducing the amount of space dedicated to televisions in its new layout and is increasing space for higher performers, like tablets and smartphones. Overall, Best Buy's prototype store is 20 percent smaller than the traditional locations, according to the Journal.

Best Buy is rolling out its new design in 60 of its locations. Speaking to the Journal, Best Buy's interim CEO Mike Mikan called the new design "Best Buy 2.0," adding that it's "catch-up, if you will, but there's much more to come."