HP TouchPad selling poorly at Best Buy, retailers in general? | webOS Nation
 
 

HP TouchPad selling poorly at Best Buy, retailers in general? 306

by Derek Kessler Tue, 16 Aug 2011 10:31 pm EDT

There’s an unsettling truth in the HP TouchPad price drop that we have to face: HP wouldn’t have dropped the price if the tablet was selling well as it was priced. A new report by Arik Hesseldahl of AllThingsD laid bare what we have long (for six weeks) suspected: the TouchPad isn’t selling as well as HP or any of their retail partners would have liked.

Staples saw a lot of success with their TouchPad $200-off sale, but it’s likely they only had a few in stock to begin with. A better barometer might be Best Buy, who has been selling the TouchPad at full price since launch. According to Hesseldahl’s report, Best Buy was sent 270,000 TouchPads by HP, and they’ve only managed to sell 25,000 of them (a number that another source said might be “charitable”). Does that seem like an unreasonable number? Recall the Woot sale of the TouchPad: they sold 612 at $120 off. Woot usually pushes thousands of any one item, HP computers included.

Best Buy is reportedly so livid about the sales of the TouchPad that they’re refusing to pay for all of them, instead insisting that HP take them back. A high-level HP executive is supposedly going to be meeting in person with these angered Best Buy executives to smooth things over, but when you’ve got masses of unsold inventory on hand, we can’t imagine that will be a very friendly chat.

HP reports their quarterly earnings tomorrow, and if these numbers are true, we expect that they will remain mum on the exact number of TouchPads actually sold. As AllThingsD posited, we expect that if HP’s actually going to give out any numbers for TouchPad sales, it’ll be “channel sales” or “shipped,” numbers that both don’t actually translate to customer sales. Just ask any Palm employee about what happens when you have hundreds of thousands (or millions) of units in excess inventory sitting around.

Though, if you go into any Best Buy, chances are you’ll get an example as to why things aren’t going well for the TouchPad: sales rep training for webOS is still in not good shape. You might even go so far as to call it miserable shape. We’ve heard plenty of reports from readers that have visited their local Best Buy only to have a sales rep try to talk them out of buying a TouchPad, because they really had no clue how the thing worked. And then there’s the problem with the TouchPads in stores running a special demo version of webOS that is both full of memory holes leading to serious lag and Too Many Cards errors, as well as unable to be updated to the much more pleasing experience that is webOS 3.0.2.

So if you’re HP and sales really are as miserable as this report suggests, what are you to do? Get the training system in order so the sales reps actually know how to sell the device. It’s one thing to not have training on a specific HP laptop for a month or two – the specs speak for themselves and everybody knows Windows. It’s another for your flagship product running a new OS most sales reps, let along most customers, aren’t all that familiar with, to not have extensive pre-launch training.

HP, there’s a small part of us that wants you to announce a blockbuster sales number for the TouchPad, but we don’t expect it to happen. And that’s okay, you can’t change the past. What you can change is the future and the now. It’s time to get sales rep training in order and kick up the advertising to the same level of Apple and Samsung. There’s still time to succeed, but the clock is ticking.

Source: AllThingsD

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306 Comments

The stupid Bestbuy local weekly ads still put 449.99 price tag on Touchpad 16GB. No wonder they cant sell anything.

I work at a BBY part-time and I have to say it's pretty much HP's fault on this one. The display models work, they're connected to the Internet, but they run buggy **** software overlays to show you what the TouchPad can do. The TPs are also saddled next to a couple of Veers. WTF is a Veer and why should AT&T subscribers care again...?

"Well when you're viewing a web page on the Veer, you can --"
Enter Lex Luthor: "WRONG!!!"

Sure, HP sends some dudes to the store to "train" employees. Then they set up an HP rep to pretty much stand around and be completely unengaged to the business around him. Maybe he will shoot the $&@* with the Canon rep or something because he's bored. You won't find him, however, chatting with the Apple rep who is doing an incredible job demoing product and then assisting BBY employees with a sale.

I tried selling a TouchPad once. I love webOS. Demoing it was a blast. But aside from the cards and notifications, and the wireless charging even through the case... I ran out of options to handle their concerns.
"Can it do word processing?"
"Well it can only view them right now."

"Can I see the apps?"
"The App Catalog isn't available on these units."

"Remote desktop?"
"Haven't seen it yet."

"What's Touch-to-Share?"
"Funny you asked."

"Why should I buy this over an iPad?"
"It multitasks like no other, it's notification system is great when paired with future webOS phones, it's got some apps... It's cheaper?"

"I have an iPhone."
"Can it do... This?"
"... Yes."
"Oh. OK."

In other words, there's not much to talk about with the TP. It's driving force will be it's connectedness and app selection and both parts are missing. The wow factor is not there for webOS anymore, it needs rekindling.

And those that are flaunting their ridiculous superiority of webOS knowledge at these poor associates, go pound sand. Is HP paying you? When you have a dizzying array of tech to sell it is literally impossible to become as fanatical about every product as you are with webOS. No wonder why the derogatory term "pretard" exists in these communities. Go ask the HP rep in the printer isle, he probably won't give a damn as he types away on his iPhone.

I got my 16GB TP with Touchstone yesterday. Updated to 3.0.2 and bang. I can only say i'm totally happy with it. I can't believe the negative press/reviews this fine device got. The Touchstone alone is setting it apart from the competition (dont want to mention all the other advantages it has over competing devices/OSs).

It hardly comes as a shock that BestBuy (and perhaps retailers in general) isn't selling the TouchPad with much vigor. If my recent experience was any indication, it seems BestBuy employees barely know the TouchPad even exists, let alone anything about it (or about WebOS devices at all), despite that big honkin' freestanding display in the middle of the store.

Here's the story...

I was in BestBuy just a few weeks ago, looking at phones, as my launch day Pre had finally decided to give up the ghost (so sad). I ended up getting an Evo3D (nice hardware, but I really miss webOS). Now, I tend to think out loud when I shop, so I mentioned to the sales girl, "I really wish the Pre3 were coming to Sprint."

She replied, "The Pre is gone. It's called the Veer now."

Excuse me, what? This woman sells phones for a living. Surely, she couldn't be that ignorant, could she?

I said, "The Veer is a different phone; it's smaller. The Pre3 is the new Pre. It's been announced for AT&T and Verizon, but not Sprint, unfortunately."

She again championed her ignorance by stating, "No, Verizon has the Pre2."

Just as I was about to try to educate her by saying, "The Pre2 is old. The new one that's about to come out is the Pre3," she cut me off by adding, "HP is getting out of the business anyway. They haven't come out with anything new."

Nothing new? Really? Hadn't she just mentioned the Veer? More importantly, is this really what BestBuy sales people are telling the public? If so, then no wonder sales have been so pitiful. Even if a shopper were able to somehow deduce on his or her own that a WebOS device is the greatest thing since sliced bread, who wants to buy from a company that is "getting out of the business"?

I felt like saying, "Hello, McFly... You don't spend over a billion dollars to buy Palm, just so you can 'get out of the business'," but I didn't do that. Instead, I responded with an example of 'something new'. I said, "Well, there's the TouchPad."

She just gave me this puzzled look, like I was suddenly speaking in Chinese. Clearly she didn't want to ask aloud the question that was written all over her face, "What the heck is a touch pad?"

I pointed to the display about 10 feet behind her, just over her right shoulder. "You've got it right over there. It's the new webOS tablet. It's supposed to be really nice."

She apparently didn't like having her ignorance so indisputably showcased, so she abruptly changed the subject over toward completing my Evo purchase. And that was that.

So there you have it. If this woman is at all representative of they typical BestBuy sales person (and I tend to think she is), the all I can say is HP has done an absolutely horrible job of taking the reigns to educate its retail partners.

I don't blame BestBuy for this woman's lack of knowledge at all. She's got thousands of products to contend with, many of which change every day. There's simply no way any one sales person can know about them all. The same is true of every big box retailer.

If you're a manufacturer, and you want a retailer to actually sell your products, rather than just park them in a pretty display and promptly forget about them, you have to make the proactive commitment yourself to make that happen. HP should be holding constant training sessions at the local level for all BestBuy employees (as well as for all their other major retail partners). They should be giving free devices to all attendees. They should be holding sales contests, with serious incentives, to motivate individual sales people to sell, sell, sell those awesome webOS devices. They should have an army of corporate reps visiting stores, hosting special sales events, rallying the troops.

Without doing all of those things (and they appear to be doing none of them), there's just no way they can expect this ship to sail on its own. There's no such thing as a product that sells itself, no matter how great it might be. Sales people make the world go 'round. HP must embraces that truth, if they want webOS to be the mega popular system that it rightly should be.

I don't believe your story.