Best Buy is getting back to business with scheduled appointments

Discussion
Photo: Getty Images/J. Michael Jones
Apr 29, 2020
George Anderson

Best Buy plans to reopen 200 of its 1,000 U.S. stores next month, but it isn’t planning to just throw its doors open. The consumer electronics retailer announced yesterday that it will reopen using a system whereby customers can schedule appointments with sales associates to discuss their appliance, technology or other needs. Best Buy also has a plan for in-home installations and repairs that it believes will keep both its employees and customers safe.

Management believes that Best Buy can maintain safe social distancing by scheduling appointments for customers in its stores. It is also providing protective gear, including face masks and gloves, for its blue shirts. Every employee will undergo a mandatory health check before each shift using an app developed by Best Buy.

Once in the store, signage will remind customers of social distancing guidelines, and employees are trained on how to maintain the proper amount of physical separation. All areas and surfaces of the store used will be sanitized before and after each appointment.

Best Buy customers will be able to schedule appointments at open stores by phone, via the website and through the retailer’s mobile app or live chat. Those with appointments will get a confirmation of their scheduled visit as well as reminders via text and email. An employee will contact the customer via phone before the visit to explain the store’s safety measures and to learn about the person’s shopping needs.

Customers will be notified at the scheduled appointment time to go to the store entrance for check-in. The shopper will be greeted by a host who will share safety measures and introduce the sales or service associate they will be working with. Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes for shopping carts will be available for customers to use.

After choosing to purchase an item, the customer will be escorted to the checkout where distancing guidelines will be followed. Each register will have a sneeze guard installed.

Best Buy is also offering delivery for customers who are unable to carry their purchases home. In select markets, where allowed, the retailer will also handle installations and repairs, following CDC guidelines. 

The consumer electronics chain has reported a 250 percent spike in online sales since it closed stores to customers due to the coronavirus pandemic. Even so, Best Buy’s sales are running at about 70 percent of what the chain achieved during the same period last year.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see Best Buy’s scheduled sales appointment plan as an effective way to build sales by reopening stores while maintaining the safety of employees and customers? Is this a model that other types of retailers would benefit from using?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Best Buy’s scheduled sales appointments are an effective and responsible way to reopen stores. "
"This won’t replace the foot traffic lost, but this is going to be a GREAT model for Best Buy."
"I think it’s a smart, safe way to start reopening. But why not take the next step and schedule video chat appointments to discuss the relevant appliances?"

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23 Comments on "Best Buy is getting back to business with scheduled appointments"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

Scheduling appointments is an excellent way to start doing business in a safe and controlled way. Given the size of Best Buy stores, I believe they will be able to easily maintain social distancing and create a safe environment for shoppers. Beyond Best Buy, appointment shopping can make sense for many other categories: furniture, jewelry, and high-end apparel to name a few.

Bethany Allee
BrainTrust

Best Buy’s scheduled sales appointments are an effective and responsible way to reopen stores. This is the only way I am willing to go into a retail establishment at this time – especially in an area where masks are not required. This is a model other retailers will benefit from. There is no mention of masks in their process – I would expect the associate to wear a mask and the customer be required to wear a mask. Then the process becomes exemplary.

David Naumann
BrainTrust

Scheduling sales appointments is one option to limit the number of customers in stores, however that only makes sense for high-priced or complex items. It would be too cumbersome for customers to schedule an appointment for a something simple like an HDMI cable or earbuds. It is great to see that Best Buy is taking this seriously by providing associates protective masks and gloves and installing sneeze guards at registers. This is much more proactive than what many grocers are currently doing to protect their associates and customers. It will be interesting to see what safety measures other non-essential stores institute to protect associates and customers as more stores begin to open.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

I’d expect that if a customer just wants an HDMI cable they can use a curbside pickup option to take care of that without needing to schedule an in-store appointment. I think Best Buy’s advantage will come from offering all of these options not from any one of them. I agree that just having the scheduled appointments would not be enough.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

As the first step to reopening fully, Best Buy’s system is very sensible and will help it generate some sales. Before this crisis, many customers used Best Buy stores to get advice and to understand more about products, so a lot of visiting was already driven by particular missions. Given this, booking an appointment is something that many shoppers will be happy to do. The system works far less well for stores where people go to browse and don’t need much service, such as mainstream apparel retailers.

That said, I see this as an interim measure. All of these actions are designed – quite rightly – to throttle footfall and keep people safe during a time of crisis. That doesn’t work long term. The economics of most of retailers are built on openness and maximizing volumes. Anything that goes against that is harmful.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Best Buy appears to be making an effort to turn on a dime. They probably never had an appointment system before but managed to get one up and running. If it helps them meet the requirements for safely returning to business, it should be acceptable to all. There may not be a flood of customers rushing to make appointments, but it should help Best Buy to capture some additional business, which is better than none. Retailers are trying to get creative…

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Bet Buy is such a well-run company! This is absolutely the right model to apply at this time, and it will reassure both customers and sales associates. Way to go!

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Best Buy is exercising total control of the process. They’re protecting everyone and giving maximum confidence that the shopping process is as safe as it can be made. Bravo.

Dave Nixon
BrainTrust

This won’t replace the foot traffic lost, but this is going to be a GREAT model for Best Buy. It shows that it cares about its customers and associates through a safety mechanism that protects everyone, and WHAT A GREAT CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE moment! Concierge treatment for shoppers. And this follows their new model of in-home services through consulting appointments. Best Buy for the win!

Stephen Rector
BrainTrust

I think this is a model that should be utilized for other retailers – it shows that the company cares both about the safety of their associates and their customers. This type of one-on-one interaction will also help retain customers for the future as well.

Jeff Weidauer
BrainTrust

This is a smart move by Best Buy to accommodate those customers who are willing to take the time to schedule. I don’t think it will help to build sales right now, but it’s a good brand-building effort. Might be a model for the future as well – personal shopping appointments as part of the rewards program?

Harley Feldman
BrainTrust

The scheduled sales appointments will only last as long as demand does not exceed the number of appointments available. After that, Best Buy will face pressure to increase the number of appointments to support the demand. Hopefully by then, the threat of the coronavirus will be reduced so Best Buy can be more open in its stores to shoppers.

The Best Buy model works when a shopper knows what they are looking for, and the visit can focus on the products that meet that interest. It does not work well for shoppers who want to spend time looking for products without knowing exactly what they want. I don’t think the Best Buy model will work well for other retailers.

Martin Mehalchin
BrainTrust

Best Buy is a well-managed operation and there is a lot to like here. Their response strategy includes strong integration of digital and physical retail, a thoughtful redesign of the shopping experience and, best of all, it leverages the strength of the “blue shirt” store associates who were one of the key components of Best Buy’s turnaround over the last decade.

Ryan Grogman
BrainTrust

There are so many unknowns currently as states and their communities begin to reopen retail, and those uncertainties will keep many customers away until they see how things are going after a week or two. Best Buy is doing its part to take control of the unknown by providing a very clear and thorough approach to reopening their stores. Will it be for everyone? No. But is this the responsible way to start reopening retail? Absolutely, and Best Buy should be commended for taking this appointment-based approach coupled with in-store safety measures.

Peter Charness
BrainTrust

The conversion rates are going to be awesome. Good way to start. I think it might also be a good idea to open up online chat for online shoppers who want to talk to an expert. I suspect that going into the store will be the last stages of a shopper journey — shoppers who have done most of their research pre-visit.

I do miss browsing stores for the sake of seeing what’s new and interesting. That’s why online-only will not replace all the brick-and-mortar stores forever.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Sounds good, better than my Best Buy television experience two weeks ago. I was not allowed to go in the store. I was told to sit in my car in the space and wait for the television salesperson to call and talk with me. Within 10 minutes the call came. He spoke of four different models for twenty minutes. No sale, but great try Best Buy. The aspect I like about this new deal: When a customer makes an appointment and shows up, we have a hot prospect.

This is much better than the curbside verbal road show, I am sure appointments will be a welcome option for many customers. Good move.

Jeff Hall
BrainTrust

Consumers are wanting to shop, and there is plenty of pent up demand, although we are all now carefully observing which brands are first and foremost placing customer health and safety, along with sales associates, front and center. Best Buy has cleared the hurdle with the sales appointment approach. It will result in high levels of customer trust and likely be replicated by others.

Ananda Chakravarty
BrainTrust

Best Buy is on the right track. Some basic capabilities like what to do if your appliance breaks down are still critical to consumers – and right now, tech maintenance is not an easy solution for families or technicians. Quarantined folk without their refrigerator, TV or washing machine can translate into a miserable experience. A solid brand name in the market to support services is just what’s needed.

Andrew Blatherwick
BrainTrust

If Best Buy has developed an app that can accurately check the health of their staff for COVID-19 then their best bet would be to launch it internationally — they would make much more money that opening stores for appointments.

However, this is a good way for retailers of high value items to be able to start to open their stores again. I am sure this can be done safely for staff and customers, and is an easy way to control the whole process. Is it more of a marketing statement than genuinely expecting to do volume sales? Probably. But if it allows people to get what they want again, some of whom are probably distress purchases, then this is a good thing. Well done Best Buy for at least trying to come up with an innovative solution.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

Best Buy was ahead of most companies during the shutdown with their procedure of only letting a few people in at a time. Those people were escorted while in the store. Now it appears they will open by following the same practices. This seems to be safe and will protect their employees and customers.

Sterling Hawkins
BrainTrust

I think it’s a smart, safe way to start reopening. But why not take the next step and schedule video chat appointments to discuss the relevant appliances? Then I can stop into the store briefly or perhaps only pick up the product.

The economics of a lot of physical retail depends on meaningful volume, experience, impulse purchases, etc. If we’re taking baby steps back towards those kinds of things, it just seems we should be leveraging digital and other channels as much as possible that could have long-term value instead of just creating stop-gap measures.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

I’m confused: are the appointments required or (simply) allowed? If the latter, fine; if the former … then I’m less optimistic. We’re still in the “baby steps” phase or reopening, so I’m not going to criticize (much), but suffice it to say I can’t see this being any kind of long-term solution.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

This is an excellent approach by Best Buy and one that I have heard grocery stores in Latin America have been using for many weeks now. Best Buy stores size works in their favor in this case and should make it easier to maintain social distancing. Coupled with their curbside pickup and shopping Best Buy is doing a number of new, positive things to keep their sales going. I expect we will see other retailers across categories adopt this approach.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Best Buy’s scheduled sales appointments are an effective and responsible way to reopen stores. "
"This won’t replace the foot traffic lost, but this is going to be a GREAT model for Best Buy."
"I think it’s a smart, safe way to start reopening. But why not take the next step and schedule video chat appointments to discuss the relevant appliances?"

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