more ocused store ormats like Walmart Neighborhood Marketsand Tesco’s Fresh & Easy will likelyintensiy. But the sheer diversity o both shoppers and shopping trips willactually require multiple ormats.In the uture, the name o the storegame will be precision retailing,with each store ormat tailored to aspecifc local market. What’s more,people who actually visit a physicalretail space will be in search o anexperience—something that adds value beyond just being a distribu-tion point.They may avor bookstores thathost stimulating book clubs andguest authors, or toy stores thatlet kids indulge themselves whilein-store experts, both real and virtual, answer parents’ questions.The Walt Disney Co., or example,is considering re-branding its 340stores in the United States andEurope as Imagination Parks, wherethat spells huge opportunities or startups, which will prolierate astechnologies provide the means topenetrate markets globally.Some o these new entrants, whichwe call wildfre niches becauseo the speed with which they canspread to serve dierent consumer segments, may even grow intodominant brands. Consumer fckle-ness suggests that much o thatdominance may be short-lived.But agile players will survive. Andwe expect some o those that allo the radar screen to speedilyreemerge as The Next Big Thing. All this has huge consequencesor brick-and-mortar stores, o course. Why, ater all, shouldshoppers seeking items closer tothe point o need bother to go intoa store at all i they can satisytheir demands more switly andconveniently online and on themove? The current vogue or smaller,
Keeping constantly connected with consumers will be key tosuccess as retail morphs into “me-tail” (see story). And BestBuy, the world’s largest consumer electronics retailer, aims tobe in the vanguard.This past summer, the Minnesota-based company launcheda new service, Twelporce, which puts its 155,000-strongglobal workorce in direct contact with customers via Twitter,the popular microblogging site.Customers who have questions about products or needhelp with technical problems, or who want service issuesresolved, can “Tweet the Twelporce,” which is a singleTwitter account or all Best Buy employees across alloperations, including the company’s amous Geek Squad.Twelporce replies to each speciic user’s query. But otherTwitter users—both employees and customers—can alsolisten in and contribute, so the new service provides adiversity o opinions and experiences rom which anyonecan beneit.Best Buy is no stranger to the potential o crowd sourcing. Forexample, the company aggregated eedback rom a wide varietyo sources to develop a new line o super-thin and lightweightlaptops with superior warranty support. And a February 2009rollout that empowers all o its US stores to accept most con-sumer electronics or recycling provides urther evidence thatBest Buy is acutely attuned to its customers’ evolving needs.As those needs escalate, Best Buy is well positioned to respondwith a customer-acing supply chain that leverages advancedanalysis o individual sales transactions to enhance productassortment and in-store placement, and helps better manageboth replenishment and in-stock levels.Meanwhile, the retailer is expanding a collaborative planning,orecasting and replenishment agreement with a South Koreanhigh-tech company that has enhanced supply chain efciencies bycutting merchandising, inventory, logistics and transportationcosts in North America. The two frms are now sharing key cus-tomer insights about the Chinese retail market, where Best Buyplans to open several hundred new outlets over the next decade.
Best Buy: The Twelporce advantage