"Hi, may I answer any questions?" a Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) store employee asks Amy Poehler at the start of the consumer electronics chain's Super Bowl commercial.
Poehler then goes on to rattle off more than a dozen.
- "What's LTE? Is it contagious?"
- "What makes a smart TV so smart?"
- "What's the cloud? Where is the cloud? Are we in the cloud now?"
It's a lighthearted ad, though it's reasonably effective in pointing out that Best Buy reps are commission-free, knowledgeable, and can fend off comedic advances.
However, it would have been more effective if real questions -- and not the type that anyone with an Internet connection these days can figure out for themselves -- would've been asked.
Yes, I have a few. It's funny that you should ask.
Why aren't you price-matching Amazon anymore?
The superstore operator moved to match prices with Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN ) ahead of the critical holiday shopping season, hoping to nip the showrooming trend in the bud. Well, according to Best Buy's website, the retailer is now back to only matching prices offered at a local retail competitor's store. Maybe margins got crushed this holiday season, and that's something that we'll see later this month when the struggling retailer reports. It's still interesting to point out that Target (NYSE: TGT ) decided last month to price-match Amazon all year round. What scared off Best Buy? As more and more of its customers buy smartphones and tablets, it's not as if Best Buy can hide when it's being underpriced elsewhere.
For someone who knows all the answers, why do you ask so many questions?
I guess it's been awhile since I last went shopping at Best Buy. I have never seen the fashionable paper bags that Poehler's walking out with at the end of the commercial. My experiences always ended with bland plastic bags. I'm also not sure why she's walking through the sales floor after her purchase. Every store that I have been to has the registers at the front. However, what really gets me is that one of the reasons I have avoided shopping at Best Buy is that it's usually the sales reps and cashiers who wind up asking too many questions. No, I don't want extended warranty protection. No, I don't want a Geek Squad plan. And please tell me that they got rid of that "buyback" insurance from the Super Bowl ad two years ago.
Why didn't you sell to your founder when you had a chance?
Richard Schulze -- the guy who started Best Buy before being dismissed in the wake of Brian Dunn's scandal -- proposed buying out the company between $24 and $26 a share last summer. The board balked. It wanted more time. It asked Schulze to wait until it asked a new CEO in place. It blew it, essentially. Best Buy wound up overpaying for a French executive to take the helm, reportedly shelled out retention bonuses for executives without performance objectives, and rattled off ugly quarter after ugly quarter. There may still be a buyout of Best Buy. Schulze's pride is at stake, and he will want to take Best Buy private. However, it will be at a fraction of his original offer. Unfortunately for Best Buy, there's no price-matching policy that covers greed in retrospect.
The brick-and-mortar versus e-commerce battle wages on, with Best Buy caught in the middle. After what might have been its most tumultuous year in history, there are now even more unanswered questions about the future for the big-box electronics retailer. How will new leadership perform? Will old leadership take the company private? Will a smaller store format work out for both the company and its brave investors? Should you be one such brave investor? To help answer all these questions, The Motley Fool has released a new premium research report detailing the opportunities -- and the risks -- in store for Best Buy. Simply click here now to claim your comprehensive report today.