In a bid to make its services more widely accessible, Apple announced last week that Best Buy is now an authorized repair partner.
In addition to the retailer's roughly 1,000 stores providing repair services, the company announced that nearly 7,600 of Best Buy's "Geek Squad" members will also serve as Apple-certified technicians who are "ready to make same-day iPhone repairs or to service other Apple products," according to a press release. Apple also noted that it will back all repairs and that only genuine Apple-branded parts will be used for the services.
Best Buy customers already rely on the knowledge and support of its employees, most notably from its Geek Squad base, so becoming an authorized Apple repair location will likely resonate well with consumers.
"We love being there for our customers no matter what their Apple need is, from helping them choose the right device, to offering AppleCare protection and now helping fix their devices," Trish Walker, Best Buy's president of services, said in a statement.
The expanded partnership with Best Buy, in addition to other third-party Apple service providers and Apple's own retail operations, means "eight out of ten Apple customers will be within 20 minutes of an authorized service provider," the company added.
"If a customer ever needs to repair their products, we want them to feel confident those repairs are done safely and correctly," Tara Bunch, Apple's vice president of AppleCare, said in a statement. "We're always looking at how we can reliably expand our network of trained technicians and we're excited to partner with every Best Buy store so it's even easier for our customers to find an authorized repair location near them."
Becoming an authorized repair partner could bode particularly well for Best Buy, where Apple products account for 15% to 20% of sales, and as competition as an Apple product seller heats up. In November, Apple added its full line to Amazon's website as well as expanded its offerings at Costco.
The discussion forum on RetailWire asked its BrainTrust panel of retail experts the following questions:
- Do you see more pros or cons to Apple's decision to name Best Buy as an authorized repair provider?
- Will some of the people who typically shop for Apple products at the brand's own stores or website now go to Best Buy?
Here are eight of the most insightful comments from the discussion. Comments have been edited by Retail Dive for length and clarity.
1. The move creates increased foot traffic for Best Buy
Jeff Sward, Founding Partner, Merchandising Metrics: Another big win for Best Buy! And for Apple and for Apple's customers. Apple enjoys what is probably among the highest levels of loyalty that a brand can enjoy. By giving Best Buy a thumbs up for repairs of Apple products they just made life easier for millions of Apple brand loyalists. And created increased foot traffic for Best Buy. And relieved themselves of any pressure to invest in opening their own stores in smaller markets. Multiple wins on multiple levels.
2. A partnership may help with overcrowded Apple stores
Harley Feldman, co-founder and CMO, Seeonic, Inc.: Having Best Buy be an authorized Apple repair provider will result in several benefits to Apple. More repair places convenient to Apple device owners should take some pressure off overcrowded Apple stores, and provide an opportunity for shoppers to purchase Apple accessories at Best Buy stores while shoppers wait for their repairs.
3. Provides greater accessibility to repair services
Herb Sorensen, Scientific Advisor, Kantar Retail; Adjunct Ehrenberg-Bass; Shopper Scientist LLC: It works for me: 30 minutes to the Apple store; 10 minutes to Best Buy – where I already rely on excellent tech help from Geek Squad!
4. Creates potential for Apple to snatch up market share
Art Suriano, CEO, The TSi Company: I see more good than bad with this new arrangement. Apple still has excellent potential for increasing market share, especially with their computers. The more consumer opportunities for awareness, trying the product and now repairs, the more Apple has a chance for that to happen.
Indeed, Apple has always suffered from not being the "business" machine of choice in the PC world, but as the cloud continues to take over how we function, there becomes less and less that one cannot do on a Mac and only on a PC. Moreover, there have always been many features of Mac computers that PCs do not offer. So the exposure is ideal.
All the Best Buy customers will now not only take notice of Apple products but Best Buy will be promoting their Apple repair services in-store as well, letting customers know that if Best Buy supports Apple 100 percent, perhaps they should consider purchasing one. Whether the customer purchases Best Buy or Apple, Apple ultimately still gets the sale!
5. Apple acknowledges it cannot reach every customer
Ricardo Belmar, Senior Director of Global Enterprise Marketing, Infovista: A clear win-win for both Apple and Best Buy! Apple recognizes its 300 stores cannot reach every Apple customer within a reasonable distance for service and turning Best Buy into an authorized service center for its products simply provides more reasons for loyal Apple fans to love the brand even more.
Best Buy stores already had an Apple store within a store to sell Apple products, so I don't see this as "stealing" any additional sales from Apple stores – shoppers getting service at the Geek Squad counter are already Apple customers. This may also be an attempt by Apple to address the perception of crowded Apple stores where customers can't get noticed by Genius Bar staff quickly enough. This is a great win for Best Buy as they further enable service revenue in their stores, continuing their great retail transformation.
6. 'Surprised it didn't happen earlier'
Ron Margulis, Managing Director, RAM Communications: I take this announcement at face value – Apple extends the range of its services while easing the pressure on its in-store staff and allowing them to do more selling, and Best Buy gets to market a new service with a great reputation that Amazon and Walmart don't have. Surprised it didn't happen earlier.
7. Gives Apple an opportunity to focus on in-store experiences
Lee Peterson, EVP Thought Leadership, Marketing, WD Partners: They just outsourced repair. Smart. Spend more energy on the experience of their spaces themselves vs people in line to fix things. Great move.
8. Apple has become too big to handle this service
Doug Garnett, President, Protonik: This is a big win for Apple. They have become far too big to handle this kind of action through their stores. I know. I tried a simple iPhone repair last weekend and it was nearly a week before I could confirm an appointment at an Apple store. Best Buy was able to confirm for an appointment within a few hours.
It's also a win for Best Buy because they draw people into their stores and an Apple connection helps them look far more interesting.