Best Buy has entered the Turkish market with a 4,200-square-meter store in Izmir. It's also the chain's first store in Europe.
Ruşen Kopmaz, Best Buy Turkey president, explained the motive was that Izmir has high purchasing power. He said the company seeks to change the face of retailing in Turkey, a dynamic market with a young population. The company has founded interactive experience zones in the store and employees will provide a distinctive shopping experience. The chairman added that the "Geek Squads" of technology experts will offer consultancy to customer.
"We aim to eliminate the chaos and inconsistent service mentality in Turkey's technology sector with these Geek Squads," says Kopmaz.
The store is also eyeing Ankara as a store location.
After waiting for the opening "enthusiasms" to pass, a friend and I decided to take a look at the new Best Buy which opened a couple of months ago here in Izmir. In fact, I was looking for a nifty graphic pad and it seemed impossible to find one here.
First we had a exploration of Media Market, which was just down the street. Comparison shopping- as dreary as it sometimes is- is always a good idea. Like Best Buy, it has newly opened its doors and sells pretty much the same things but with more emphasis on appliances. We left after about 15 minutes. Too busy, too crowded. Every time I am in places like that I try to imagine what would if there were like in a fire or a minor tremor. Many Turks can be a bit hysterical even in the best of times.
Beside the poor traffic flow of the store, many of the products were poorly marked and the salespeople didn't seem to understand even the questions. Normally I don't request a lot help from salespeople but when I do, I expect them to know about the product on their shelves. And not try to bluff when they don't.
In Best Buy, a couple of blue shirts came and asked me if I was looking for something and then left me to wander. One thing that can permanently turn me off of any shop is to be followed around and watched. Sometimes they don't even ask if they can help, just a pair of hovering blank eyes. So, I was thankful not to have to deal with this at Best Buy.
In most retail places in Turkey, there is a real training problem and supervisor/management is usually non-existent. "I want to speak to the manager," is phrase, common in the USA, but one that would bring quizzical slightly amused looks from the staff in this country.
Checkout might have been faster, I remember thinking. And, as usual, there was little control of the line. (I will never get used to it but by now, you would think I would have.)
Another thing I enjoyed was their use of space. In the Media Market, the aisles were more narrow and you got the feeling you were in a submarine corridor after a few minutes. On a Saturday, it must feel like the Black Hole of India there.
Americans can come off sounding terribly spoiled and haughty. It's only natural. Americans are used to an extremely high level of customer service. The competition is too high, the consumer advocacy is too evolved. For example, it is not uncommon to hear an American say, "I will never step foot in that place because.." and they mean it. Seriously.
Turks tend to be more loyal to their shopping routines, I guess. Maybe too forgiving or accepting. That's why a Better Business Bureau would not function well in this country. Give them about ten years and a few more American companies opening in Turkey and they will be stamping their feet and calling for the managers.