Here's How Best Buy is Teaming Up with the Technology World to Take the Fight to Amazon

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Five years ago, electronics retailer Best Buy was on the ropes. Brick-and-mortar technology stores were losing ground to Amazon as customers gravitated towards the convenience and low prices e-commerce retailers could offer. Even the online arm of Best Buy was struggling as it simply could not compete with Amazon’s selling power.

However, five years later and Best Buy is not only surviving, it is thriving, with domestic online revenue growing to 21% in the last fiscal year. So, how did Best Buy go from downward spiral to holding Amazon back, and performing better than anyone expected?

The Power of Brick-and-Mortar

It started with a realization. Best Buy realized they possessed something Amazon did not. Something they could leverage to give them a USP which Amazon simply could not offer in its current form – over 1,000 brick-and-mortar stores.

Best Buy recognized that 70% of US consumers lived 15 minutes or less from one of their physical locations. This meant they could offer a service where customers could use the website to view products, and then find out if the item they wanted was in stock at their local store. If so, they could simply place their order, and then head down to the store and collect it – much in the same way Starbucks offers its mobile order-and-pay service – cutting down on time spent browsing shelves in store.

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Alternatively, a customer can arrange to collect items from the store at a later date if the item is not in stock, or have it shipped to them from that location – cutting down on shipping time. “So what stores offer us is a great opportunity to build that distribution very close to where customers are. And, because we are very close to the customers with our presence, this actually gave us a very strong competitive advantage as we thought about providing customers fulfilment in a much faster way,” says Best Buy Chief Digital Officer, Bala Subramanian.

Giants of Technology

However, leveraging the power and convenience of its brick-and-mortar locations as distribution hubs is not the only way Best Buy is using in-store shopping to fight back against Amazon.

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Technology giant Google Canada has teamed up with Best Buy to offer amazing new in-store shopping experiences. Google Canada set up small Google stores in 10 Best Buy locations – with plans to expand to larger spaces in 4 major cities. These Google Stores offer a place for consumers to view and demo Google’s brilliant domestic technology products, such as Pixel, the Daydream View VR device, and Chromecast Ultra.

Not only can customers try out these products prior to making a purchase, they can also participate in weekly workshops designed to train them in all aspects of their use, empowering consumers to get the most out of their brand-new tech.

"We are thrilled that Google Canada chose Best Buy as their retailer of choice to launch these innovative retail spaces," says Ron Wilson, President and COO of Best Buy Canada. "We are committed to providing our customers with the best service and the most exciting experience, and this is a prime example of that."

Friend to Technology Startups

Technology companies don’t come much bigger than Google. However, Best Buy wasn’t content with just getting the biggest players in the tech world on board. They wanted the smallest as well.

Starting with its location in (where else but) Silicon Valley, Best Buy initiated its Ignite program. Designed to offer retail space to innovators and startups, Ignite sought to offer a place where consumers could discover and try out the latest tech products from the very frontline of the crowd-funding market.

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Creating a symbiotic relationship between Best Buy and innovators, Ignite allows Best Buy to offer their customers fantastic in-store experiences with the very latest technology, whilst empowering its creators to get their inventions into consumers’ hands more conveniently, more quickly, and at a lower cost. As the official Best Buy Ignite store expert in Mountain View, California, James Trivizo says, “Customers have really been fascinated by our selection of new technology… I think that Ignite really allows us to be able to show people the innovation that exists today and where technology is going.”

A Phoenix Rises

Thanks to a revelation in terms of how its brick-and-mortar stores could be used to augment the online shopping experience, and together with some big and not-so-big players in the technology business, Best Buy has shown why you should never count them out.

The last word goes again to Subramanian

“Our focus was very clear at the time: What do you need to do to make sure that when customers come to the store they buy the product? Be competitive online and make sure that we have the products and selections which people need, and that’s what we’ve been able to do on a consistent basis.”

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