business news in context, analysis with attitude

Interesting piece in The Washington Post this morning about how Best Buy, the electronics retailer, "is trying to make the Internet a friend rather than a foe by bringing it into the stores and turning it into both a marketing tool and a new product for sale."

To that end, the chain has begun selling subscriptions in-store to an Internet music service called Rhapsody, which allows them to download music onto their computers and have the fees charged to their credit cards.

This is just a forerunner to another service that Best Buy soon will offer - the ability to go to an in-store kiosk and burn your own CDs with only the music tracks you want.

"The stores already market subscriptions to the Internet movie rental service Netflix, all the leading Internet access providers and half a dozen prepaid Web content services, such as and eDiets," according to the Post. "Soon, Best Buy hopes to sell Internet games and other Web services."

"We have done a lot of research and found that people are looking for new digital services," Scott Young, the company's vice president, told the paper. "We want to partner with leading companies to provide them."
KC's View:
Creating strategic alliances and the ability to customize the shopping experience and product selection is a compelling combination, and from a strategic point of view, is something that more supermarket chains ought to be looking into.

Food chains are used to just having the box, stocking it with merchandise and services, and that's it. But in 2003 and beyond, that has to change, as the store offers a plethora of unusual services and products, using concepts like "endless aisle" technology to make more products than ever available to consumers, online shopping and home delivery to make them more accessible.

And that's just the beginning, because these are ideas that exist today. If chains don't start breaking the mold, they may lose the window of opportunity.