Friday, December 17, 2010

Hope for Mediamarkt in Shanghai? - Updated

Shanghai 009Image by Fantake via Flickr
On my little tour through Shanghai today I ran into the new (and first) outlet of the German retailer Mediamarkt. Last month I just already have tweeted about the really cute 3D trailer they made for the opening, so this was a good opportunity to check them out. Five floors of electric appliances, in setup not that different from their European stores, including boxes to store your bags with locks that did not work.
I was amazed to see especially long rows of coffee makers, surprising since Chinese do not drink often coffee at home. They do drink coffee at Starbucks and the growing number of other chain stores, but that is to be fashionable and Starbucks did a good job in actually hiding the coffee taste.
Fortunately, the no-doubt stubborn European management had also listened to their Chinese staff and I noted long sets of dehumidifiers - more than in Europe and important in humid Shanghai - and many, many rice cookers. There were actually more rice cookers than customers in the store on a Friday afternoon. That of course does not spell good for the sales in China. Is Mediamarkt taking the same direction as Best Buy?

Update I: We went back to Mediamarkt to compare some prices with some of the appliances we bought in Europe, so not the products that are also common in China. For an espresso machine and advanced cleaning equipment we paid in Europe half of the price tag at the Mediamarkt in Shanghai. Quite a premium, we thought. The high margin might make it affordable to keep products in store that seldom sell.
Update II: We visited again Mediamarket on Saturday, after we concluded that an electronic product we wanted to buy an electronic product that was actually cheapest in Mediamarkt. The number of (window) shoppers was also reasonably high. We discussed our changed views with a few customers, and indeed Mediamarkt is offering a better shopping experience than any other outlet (including Chinese stores, Best Buy and Carrefour). That includes a wealth of choice and - most important in Shanghai - the cheapest prices. Unless you go for overpriced imported products. We actually found today on three spots qualified staff giving us good and relatively unbiased expert views. It it not help the people at the cashier: we literally had to wake up one of them when we wanted to pay. Real business is not yet brisk.
Returning goods is also not a policy in Mediamarket (probably for good reasons), but cost us another ten minutes in negotiating a possible purchase with the highest manager in charge.

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