Soda, Chips & iPods

In General, Retail Thoughts on May 27, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Best Buy has rolled out some prototype electronic vending machines in select locations (mostly airports) over the past couple of years. I’ve only seen one, which is in the JetBlue terminal (C) at Logan Airport in Boston. I wrote a couple of months ago about eMenus and software/hardware innovation and use in restaurants and think these Best Buy kiosks are an equally interesting retail experiment.  The kiosks sell small-sized personal consumer electronics and accessories: iPods, cameras, headphones, etc. It’s cool, assuming it works…

I was traveling via JetBlue yesterday and was pretty excited to try the “Best Buy Express,” as I need new headphones/mic for my iPhone. The process was easy and quick (touch screen ordering, simple instructions) BUT the mechanism that retrieved my headphones from the shelf somehow snagged two boxes and a fail-safe must have been activated and the order (and machine) froze – i.e., I was about to get two candy bars for the price of one out of the vending machine… (read more) This defect occurred after I had paid using a C.C. so I was frustrated, to say the least.  Regardless, the machine was smart enough to realize it shouldn’t charge me and I got a receipt back that showed the $39.00 purchase but had a total of $0.00 and a message at the footer stating “We’re sorry that you didn’t receive your product(s), you will not be charged, however you may see a pending transaction on your account for 3 to 5 days.” Sweet.

A good retail idea – yeah. Will I try a Best Buy Express again – nope. Oh and fyi, same $39.00 headphones I was about to buy are $29.00 at Apple.

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