Selling Chromebooks in Walmart is a win but retail remains a major

first_imgSoon, Chromebooks will be everywhere. Google has secure deals with a slew of new retail partners around the globe — including Walmart and Staples. In total, more than 6600 new stores will soon have Chromebooks on display and priced as low as $199.That alone will be enough to move a good number of units. But there’s one annoying little hurdle that Google’s going to have to overcome if it wants to help Acer, Samsung, HP, and its other Chrome OS pals generate some really big sales figures: Google has to make sure that salespeople stop tearing apart Chrome OS.IT World’s Dave Webb went Chromebook shopping with a co-worker in California. When one Best Buy staffer handed over a still-boxed Chromebook to Webb’s friend, another salesperson quickly grabbed it away and offered a “helpful” warning.“This isn’t what you think it is,” he said — presumably meaning that a Chromebook is not a real notebook. Strictly speaking, he’s right. Chromebooks and Chrometops don’t run apps like iTunes or Skype and they can’t install Steam and download all its lovely games. To the average shopper, that means it’s a step or two below a Windows laptop or MacBook.Savvy users — folks who read — understand what the browser-centric Chromebooks are all about. They’re cloud first devices, built to be fast, resilient, and capable without being bloated and cumbersome. They’re designed to run all day and handle 90% of computer used for 90% of users — all the things you do in your browser on a daily basis in 2013.But in a big box store, sales staff know all too well how fickle their customers can be. If someone buys a $199 Chromebook, there’s a decent chance that person is going to come back angry and complain about being sold something that wasn’t a real laptop. They’ll feel cheated, and they’ll want to speak to a manager.The answer: the pre-emptive strike. Tell shoppers up front that Chromebooks are different.Google’s problem is to get these front line soldiers to put a positive spin on things. No, this isn’t a regular laptop. Chromebooks are different — not better or worse — and they might ultimately be a better fit for some shoppers than a “regular” laptop.Whether or not that’s an achievable goal at 6,600 new locations remains to be seen. It’s going to be an uphill battle.last_img read more