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How Best Buy is staying alive in the face of online alternatives

Electronics are everywhere these days - in your pocket, on your head, strapped to your wrist and gleaming in front of you with crystal clear picture and audio. While the market for consumer electronics is budding, good old-fashioned retailers have had to re-imagine their business landscape to keep up with cheaper online competitors. 

Forbes magazine once predicted the slow death of electronics giant Best Buy after Amazon.com started offering electronics online at cheaper prices. Consumers began visiting Best Buy's enormous and interactive showroom to view and test products with their hands but then returned home to buy the product cheaper from Amazon, Forbes reported.

But a Pro Opinion survey that asked consumers to indicate which of the major in-store electronics retailers they shopped in showed that Best Buy was far ahead of the game. 64 percent said they shopped in Best Buy and 61 percent also said they went to Wal Mart - but only 11 percent said they shopped anywhere other than those two retail giants as well as Target and Radioshack. So while online retailers like Amazon and B&H stole the spotlight for a while, traditional electronic stores like Best Buy are making a strong comeback. 

Stores like Best Buy have credit cards that offer rewards and financing.Stores like Best Buy have credit cards that offer rewards and financing.

Changing the game
Forbes reported that Best Buy's Renew Blue campaign has injected new life into the once-fading giant. The program partnered with electronics makers like Microsoft and Samsung to create "stores-within-stores," providing a more personal experience for customers with some of their favorite brands while alleviating the risks associated with having a showroom display for Best Buy. The Geek Squad is also an attractive feature that Best Buy has fully developed - offering customers experts that will come to their homes and provide installation and tech support. Online retailers might be able to provide support in a chat room, but they're unlikely to send anyone to your house to help mount that big-screen TV to the wall.

There's also the fact that in 2012, Best Buy expanded its price-match policy to include online retailers, according to Business Insider. It's a win-win for consumers who like to experience their technology hands-on before purchasing it, and they can still get the same online price without having to wait for it to be shipped to their door. Best Buy essentially reversed the trend that almost sounded the death knell for them when consumers were using them for their showroom and taking their business elsewhere. This is also coupled with the fact that many states are now requiring

"Best Buy will match the price of any online retailer"

online retailers to collect sales taxes - something that used to provide them with an enormous benefit over land-locked retailers, according to Forbes. 

Business Insider reported that consumers should take advantage of retailers who offer in-store discounts and rewards programs with their store credit cards - like the Best Buy credit card that offers rewards and up to 18-month financing on certain items. This is something that will especially benefit consumers around the holidays.

Let's not forget about the dreaded return policies. Life Hacker reported that Amazon gives you thirty days to return a product, but they'll be charging you a 15 percent restocking fee if you just don't like it. Best Buy gives you two weeks to return something, whether you like it or not, at no additional cost.

So before you hop online to see what kind of deal you can get from an online retailer, don't be afraid to zip down to Best Buy or another electronic store to see what kind of deal you can get. If nothing else, at least you'll get to take the product home with you that day - it's part of the thrill of shopping. 

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