Best Buy doing unexpectedly well in the age of Amazon

A few years ago, I photoshopped Best Buy, as the last-man-standing on the brick and mortar battlefront of consumer electronics, as "Amazon Showroom." But of late I find myself walking out with the thing I was looking at, having found it meeting my needs and competitively priced. It turns out the company is thriving, writes Bloomberg's Susan Berfield and Matthew Boyle, despite everyone predicting its death.

Best Buy's stock fell 10 percent the day he was named CEO—but Joly understands how to value, and capture, customers' time. Comparable sales rose 5.6 percent last year and 9 percent during the Christmas season, the biggest holiday gain since 2003. The stock price has quadrupled. Even Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is impressed. "The last five years, since Hubert came to Best Buy, have been remarkable," he said at an appearance in April.

Those years were about getting people into Best Buy stores and onto its website; Best Buy's future will be about getting its people into homes. Joly, who made a surprise visit to talk with the trainees, explains the importance of this strategy: "That lets you have a real conversation. You can talk about what's possible, be human, make it real." They'll encounter those slogans again throughout headquarters.  "We get 26 percent of our consumers' electronic spending. That's embarrassing," he says. "If we get a third, it would still be embarrassing, but the growth for the company would be tremendous. This is a great way to make a sale, but it's also the beginning of a beautiful friendship, to quote Casablanca. Does anybody know Casablanca?"

Bloomberg's angle is that the company's service and support, the Geek Squad stuff, will make it big again. But sales made it stay alive the last 5 years.

I returned to Best Buy because its no-bullshit return policy (and the fact that it's the only game in even very big towns) generates a cornucopia of cheap, returned merchandise. Only some of it ends up listed on its website. Check out your local Best Buy and you might find the "Open Box" case has morphed into an entire aisle — and it's where you can go to get brand new stuff at refurb prices.