Best Buy puts multi-taskers to work
Best Buy last week elaborated on a workforce reset aimed at encouraging store employees to tackle more tasks to support omnichannel practices, including delivering packages to homes.
The changes come as stores increasingly drive online sales. Online contributed a third of Best Buy’s first-quarter sales, up from 15 percent in the pre-pandemic first quarter of 2019. About 60 percent of online revenue was either picked up in-store or curbside, shipped from store or delivered by a store employee, “which is becoming an increasingly important aspect of our delivery experience,” said Corie Barry, CEO, on the retailer’s first-quarter conference call.
Best Buy implemented employee delivery in the fourth quarter, having associates do so during downtime periods and using Best Buy vans to avoid liability.
The service mostly supports next-day capabilities, speeds delivery times and offers “surprise and delight” to customers. “Typically, the customer feedback we hear is, I wasn’t expecting a blue shirt necessarily to come walking up with the package and delivered it safely to my home,” Ms. Barry said.
Enabling employee delivery is part of a broader effort to create a “more flexible and engaged workforce” by upskilling in-store sales associates to handle other tasks, such as virtual consultations and remote support. “Our employees are gaining skills that can be used across their career journey, and they’re gaining more confidence,” she said.
Some are picking up skills related to in-home tech assistance. Early results show that, as skills are added, employees drive a higher customer net promoter score. Ms. Barry said, “As we continue to evolve our labor model, we have not lost sight of the competitive advantage our team members provide, especially in more complex sales transactions.”
The labor changes are resulting in fewer net employees; Best Buy’s employee count fell 17 percent in 2020. Full-time employees are now 60 percent of the chain’s workforce, compared to 54 percent pre-pandemic.
“We are iterating to find the balance between providing in place full-time opportunities that come with benefits and guaranteed hours and schedules, while also maintaining the flexibility that is often important in retail,” said Ms. Barry. “Overall, we are doubling down on the expertise by investing in our people, in their training, skill sets, and career progression.”
- Best Buy (BBY) Q1 2022 Earnings Call Transcript – The Motley Fool
- Best Buy Adopts Home-Delivery Plan That Flopped at Walmart – Bloomberg
- Digital gains are changing how Best Buy puts its associates to work – RetailWire
- How Best Buy is rethinking the role of its store employees – Modern Retail
- Best Buy shrinks sales floors for a more fulfilling experience – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is empowering associates to handle deliveries, virtual consultations and other non-store tasks an efficient way to manage omnichannel needs or is it stretching associates too thin? What do you think of Best Buy’s strategy of reducing the overall staff count by upskilling workers and increasing the percentage of full-time workers?