Best Buy Gets Back Into the Camera Game

Ed Lee
Jan 30, 2015

During the golden days of digital camera sales, Best Buy was a dominant retailer. It offered consumers a wide selection of compact cameras at good prices. However, with compact camera sales waning, Best Buy has seen its influence on the market diminish, as consumers and vendors focus on more profitable digital interchangeable lens camera sales (DILCs). While Best Buy has sold DILCs, the selection was limited, merchandising was lacking, lens selection was limited and locked away behind glass, and in-store personnel were not trained to answer probing technical questions.

It looks like Best Buy has decided it wants to be a driving force in the camera market again. The company has seen success with its Experience Shops, e.g. Apple, Samsung, and Sony, within stores and is in the process of applying this to cameras. A recent marketing email alerted customers that Best Buy has recently launched Camera Experience Shops in select stores, almost 70 stores, around the country. I was all excited to check out the local Best Buy store last night to experience the camera shop itself, but was disappointed to find the old camera island still set up. A check of the Best Buy website reveals that the only Camera Experience Shop currently open in Massachusetts can be found in Framingham, which is 30 miles away.

The Camera Experience Shops have dedicated floor space, are designed to give consumers more hands on experience with DILCs from major vendors like Canon, Nikon, and Sony, and allow them to try out a variety of different lenses. Trained store personnel will be available to demonstrate and explain how to use the equipment. In addition, professional photographers will be brought in to teach free workshops. throughout the year at select locations.

InfoTrend’s Opinion

The Camera Experience Shops are essentially photo specialty shop within the stores. The timing may be right. With the demise of mom & pop photo specialty stores in recent years, there are areas of the country with little or no coverage from photo-centric retailers. By having the right selection of cameras and lenses and trained store personnel to answer probing technical and photographic questions, Best Buy has an opportunity to reposition itself as a destination for interchangeable lens camera buyers.

The shops could help attract the serious family memory keepers and hobbyist photographers. Focusing on the avid photographer is in sync with camera vendors who are also chasing the photo enthusiast. These people are very interested in photography, willing to spend money to expand their collection of camera gear, and looking to improve their photographic skills.

Whether the Camera Experience Shops are successful or not will be determined by how much Best Buy promotes them and the knowledge level of the personnel who staff the shops. Potential customers will want to talk to enthusiastic photographers like themselves, who are very knowledgeable about photography and may even be using the gear that they are selling.



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