Best Buy’s Value Equation: How PCs Make it to Store Shelves

Our friends from Laptop Magazine interviewed Jason Bonfig, Best Buy’s VP of computing to interview the ‘most important person in the PC industry you’ve probably never heard.’ Bonfig oversees Best Buy’s value equation, a method that determines what PCs are sold in stores and online. What is and isn’t sold by Best Buy can influence the entire PC industry and its component companies.

The value equation takes every component of a PC, including its brand, and assigns it a customer value for the PC. The customer value is compared to the retail price and if the ratio is favorable the product has a better chance of making it onto store shelves.

The millions of customers who buy PCs from Best Buy each quarter are in effect casting votes for brands, processors, screen sizes, graphics, hard drive size and price points.

When it’s all said and done, a handfull of PCs make the cut each cycle and are placed on store shelves. In addition, there’s an array of online exclusives that Best Buy considers a good value, but doesn’t feel will do as well at its physical store locations.

From Best Buy’s perspective, the value equation makes a whole lot of sense, but the method means that we rarely see the best models and configurations offered by Lenovo, HP, Sony and the like at Best Buy. The reason is because the speedier processors, durability and other premium features don’t budge the value equation far enough to displace the often mediocre configurations that consumers are willing to pay for.

Does Best Buy offer a good selection of PCs that will satisfy most consumers? Absolutely. But if you’re looking for a highly-configured tablet or notebook you’ll probably need to look elsewhere.

Bonfig hinted that other tablet devices (similar to the iPad, not Tablet PCs) will be hitting Best Buy shelves this holiday season and early next year. The most important criteria for the devices? A competitive app store and excellent user experience.

Read the full interview over at Laptop Mag.