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Best Buy builds UK interest online ahead of retail launch

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UK electronics retailers have been keeping a keen eye on the arrival of leading US multichannel retailer Best Buy. So there’ll have been keen interest in this week’s news that the retailer is to start trading from the UK in May.

It’s interesting that a company known for its Geek Squad of well-educated store assistants should make its UK debut trading in bricks and mortar only, for the moment at least. Best Buy announced this week that stores will open in Thurrock in May, followed by stores in Southampton and the West Midlands in June. A Croydon store will follow in the autumn, while there’s also been an announcement of a new distribution centre contract signed with Wincanton.

As yet, though, is in use solely as a marketing tool, with none of the ecommerce functionality on display at its US site. But it’s a sophisticated marketing tool at that – populated by product features, where store managers give regular progress reports on blogs, and interested parties can ask questions through community forums (at the moment these seem to be mainly potential employees and those who’ve experienced its US stores).

For a retailer that isn’t yet trading in the UK, it has a healthy showing on Facebook (1,769 friends at the time of writing) and Twitter (746 followers), while it also has a presence on You Tube and Flickr.

The corporate plan for this joint venture between The Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy is to grow a chain of stores and websites across Europe to profit from a European electronics market whose value it put at £89 billion. The company has said it will create 8,000 jobs in the UK in its first five years here.

Our view: Best Buy is taking it steady when it comes to a UK launch, building interest ahead of trading. We’ll be interested to see how that develops, and have no doubt other electronics retailers will be monitoring keenly.

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