Best Buy’s Brick And Click Quarantine

Modeling Marketing Giants Series: Omni-Channel Retail

In the conversation of Omni-Channel business operations, many retailers come to mind. In all the pioneering purchasing-models we saw develop through the summer of COVID-19, very few optimized brick & mortar with e-commerce strategies to synthesize customer solutions in the face of the confusion and hysteria.

It is certainly a competitive market out there for retailers battling a fractured economy, and a palpable fear still lurks from this pandemic. The shopping place is nothing like it used to be with several of our favorite retailers and restaurants went in the wind.

Not to mention a supply-line giant of a competitor, like Amazon, to outpace and outshine in a time when they seemingly have it all. Circumstances aside, they were several reasons, quarantine included, that the masses flocked to Best Buy’s website, mobile application, and store since the pandemic’s inception.  

Through a combination of new operational flexibility, strong pull purchase strategies both on mobile and web, and next-level convenience of same-day curbside pickup, next-day delivery, and 30-day returns, they found themselves becoming an essential retailer for the masses. 

Operational Flexibility 

Brick and Click should be the new slogan for the retailer. Their stock, availability, and service were up to par and exceptional at all times amidst a critically difficult time for most retailers. Not only did they run an efficient omnichannel business that thrived, but they revived a plagued and boring department store model in an opportune moment.  

Their store remained open during normal business hours as soon as CDC and state-level protocol allowed. By July 22nd, they had reopened in-person and brought more than 52,000 furloughed workers back. They maintained their hours through the early days of reopening and continued to adjust and adhere as needed. 

Their enhanced safety measures allowed for in-person shopping and conveyed a sense of responsibility to their customer. No longer was you able to walk in and peruse the shelves. The business had to be objective and personal with an associate and all customers and staff had to wear face masks at all times.

Customer Centric Reconstruction

The omnichannel retailer had not one, but three points of sale between the website, mobile application, and in-store. 

The hottest item of the decade, let alone the summer, the Sony Playstation 5, found itself only on Best Buy.com. For some time they had this exclusive product alone which provided some lessons in itself for the retail giant. 

The PS5 product availability alone weighed down and crashed their servers on its release date. They had to segment the release into hourly availability windows so as not to bog-down the Best Buy corporate server. Talk about hype! The product release windows continue to drive Best Buy’s stock, cultural relevance, and chatter amongst electronics and video game enthusiasts.

Purchases made online during the pandemic were available for safe/convenient physical pickup even faster at a local Best Buy store. This gave customers incentive to pickup by driving in person and claiming their online purchase from a store attendant, all while in the comfort of their car. 

The Curbside Pickup alone was a convenience that pushed pandemic sales for Best Buy through the roof. If customers were unhappy with the product they could return with no hassle and have a credit refunded immediately.

Pull Purchase Strategy

Best Buy deployed tactical pull purchase strategies within their website, mobile app, and affiliate websites that increased sales and brought customers back to their shopping cart. At every stage of consideration, decision making, post-purchase and alternative evaluation, the retailer was there to provide what the customer wanted next. Whether that be in information, reviews, video links and transparent comments from past customers were available. 

Following a search for a product or specific item on the Best Buy website, potential shoppers would be pushed along a purchase funnel through incentivizing content and real-time feedback that would appear on other sites, in email-marketing pieces, and text message follow-ups.

Once purchased, Best Buy included follow-up emails with product support listed, Geek Squad contact info included, and return information provided. Not only did these actions increase returning customers through the door and website clicks, but they helped pull a ton of customers on the fence about a purchase, into intentional shoppers with confidence and information at hand.

These strategies and efforts Best Buy employed may have felt intrusive at some point in the past or pre-Covid, but the simplicity and convenience they provided customers are invited and necessary as some would point out. Given how seamless and integrated it makes our purchasing behaviors. In turn, these strategies have customers feel more confident about their buying decisions with Best Buy through the pandemic.

Weathering the Storm 

The consumer electronics retailer of 55 years shocked us all by how well they did through the last two quarters of 2020. Surprising investors and Wall Street alike with net sales topping $11.85B by September’s end. 

There is no doubt that Best Buy found a stride through this crisis. By pivoting their focus to heavier omnichannel efforts, specific pull purchase strategies, and a customer-centric reconstruction, they have redefined themselves. It was truly a moment the retailer needed to pivot and find itself on the way to an even better year in sales.