We're upgrading the home media center. At the heart of the project will be a Mac Mini that will operate an LCD television. Up until today we hadn't purchased either of these products.
It's been slow at the office, so I took the afternoon off and decided to pick up the Mini and look for and possibly buy the TV.
For the TV, we were looking for a few things: 52 inch picture, 120hz refresh, good picture and a good price.
My first stop was at Best Buy Roseville, MN. I went to the television section and looked at their displayed TVs. There were a few that I considered purchasing, but there wasn't anything that jumped out at me. I was kind of surprised that nobody offered to assist me, but I looked at what they had and there wasn't anything that could compete with the products I found online. I think at one point an employee asked me if I was OK, but he only asked me if I'm OK. I really couldn't tell if they were busy or just elsewhere.
I then went to Ultimate Electronics next door. They had a better selection. I actually found a TV that looked really nice at a decent price. I looked it up on www.froogle.com and it had great reviews. I also found that I could get it for $100 less than what Ultimate Electronics was offering. I thought I might see if a sales person could compete, but here's the thing nobody offered to help me. There were about five guys BSing around the counter. Instead of bothering them I just ordered the same model from my phone from within the store. I thought it was kind of funny that I was shopping at Amazon from within a brick and mortar.
Had they decided to burn a couple of calories and offer to help me they might have made a few bucks off my business.
I then went across the street into Rosedale Mall. I went to the Apple store and was immediately greeted. I told the guy who greeted what I was interested in and he got a friendly lady to help me. She introduced herself and asked what I was planning to do. I told her I was planning on creating a media center for our living room. She was interested and thought it sounded really cool.
She showed me the display Mini. She explained how it would hook up to the TV. We then figured out the stuff that I'd need to get. She then went into the back room to get the stuff. While I was waiting, I was asked if I could be helped by three people. They were all friendly and nice. I thought that was really cool and enjoyable.
The lady even found that one of the accessories that I needed was on sale from Apple's web site for less and suggested that I order it from there instead. That was really considerate.
At Best Buy and Ultimate, they acted more as facilitators of visual aides for my TV purchase. They never even really tried to sell me anything or help me. I don't think I'm a demanding customer. I'm not going to buy a bunch of Monster cables, but they could make a few bucks on a purchase.
I know that online retailers are eating some brick and mortar retailer's lunch, but I think a lot of it has to do with the experience. I'm not going to work hard to give them my business. If they want it, it's there. They've got to offer me something more than what I can get from an online retailer to get it.
EDIT: here's the TV I picked up.