With fewer people visiting shopping centers and many of those unwilling or unable to make decisions on electronics without advice, Best Buy Co. (NYSE:BBYC) and Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZNC) have come up with a novel solution: Bring back the traveling salesman.
Both companies are hiring salespeople to visit with you in your home to recommend electronics or provide “smart home” solutions in a place where you are comfortable and where the two company’s experience is beginning to show you may be willing to spend more and buy more.
Best Buy U.S. Rollout Coming
Best Buy has been testing a free service that uses noncommissioned salespeople to sit down with customers in their homes and recommend electronics. The program is set to roll out nationwide this coming fall.
In addition to driving sales of televisions and other electronics, the in-home sales staff will push the company’s Geek Squad to provide tech repairs and in-home installations for a fee. Currently Best Buy controls about 29% of the U.S. market in consumer electronics, followed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMTB) and Amazon.
Amazon Starts Home Visits
Amazon, which is becoming known for innovation in sales methods, has begun expanding its program that sends employees into home to provide free “smart home consultations.” During visits homeowners can test Amazon’s Echo smart speakers and voice-controlled devices. The consultants also provide fee-based installation services if the customer purchases items from Amazon.
Appointments with Amazon are booked in areas where the service is available via the company’s website. According to an Amazon spokesman, “Amazon Smart Home Services isn’t just about buying or even installing smart home products, it’s about educating customers on how it all works and customizing the products.”
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Good For One – Good For All
Best Buy has taken a brand-agnostic approach saying, “Despite what the vendors might want, there’s no customer who has only one brand in the home.” This leaves the door open for the sales and installation of products by Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GOOGC) Google and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPLC).
Meanwhile Samsung, with the launch of its new Galaxy Note 8 is providing customers with 2 months of free “in-home” service via HelloTech. HelloTech says it will visit customers at home, at work or in a local coffee shop to provide technical support in person. Another company, Puls, is providing in-home service for Samsung and Google to demonstrate products and repair gadgets.