Top of the news

Or at least a couple of interesting items in the Wall St. J. this Friday (before my wife and I compete in a mixed-doubles tennis tournament, which will probably not be so interesting). The Journal is behind a paywall.

First, Chasing China’s Shoppers: How Best Buy Tapped a Supercharged Middle Class—Through Trial and Error (also p. B1 of the 6/15 US edition) In China, Best Buy has displayed a capacity to learn that seems to have escaped it here in the US. Essentially, they opened US-style stores under the Best Buy label. They flopped. But they also bought into a local chain and from that learned how to do business in China. so they closed the Best Buy stores and have concentrated on growing the local outfit. Here’s the key quote:

“We were stupid and arrogant,” says David Deno, who was Best Buy’s Asia chief until recently.

Wish they would adopt that same attitude over here. The Chinese stores have a Schwerpunkt on customer service that’s a far cry from what I experienced last fall when we outfitted our new home at the place. Let’s just say that if I needed help, it either came courtesy of Google or by calling manufacturers directly.

Another article worth perusing is A Novel “Third Place” in Tokyo.  I have no idea, of course, whether this concept — essentially a high-end bookstore — will succeed. But it’s another example of getting out of an orientation rut: Bookstores have run their course, and the only way to stay in business is to cut costs, which usually means customer service. The Schwerpunkt here (and this is what I found really interesting) is not “better bookstore” but “third place,” between home and office. That guided the rest of the concept, including bookstore, coffee shop, even travel agency. It provided the basis for the harmony that is essential to vitality and growth (see Patterns 144).

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