Best Buy’s Customer Centricity Experiment

Discussion
Oct 14, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

To its critics, the notion that Best Buy has found a way to become a customer centric organization is, to put it less than politely, laughable.

But, critics or not, Best Buy has done just that it says and the evidence is the rollout of 68 customer centric stores in California.

The retailer says it has developed each of the pilot stores with a focus on a specific customer.

Twenty-four of the new stores, located primarily in the areas around Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, will deliver products and services targeted to small business owners. Sixteen units will target affluent professionals who are looking for the best technology. Another sixteen will try to meet the needs of family men. Twelve of the pilot stores will be focused on suburban moms and eleven are being merchandised for early adopters of new technology.

In some instances, stores will have multiple customer centricity groups to serve.

Mike Keskey, president of U.S. Best Buy Stores said in a released statement, “Customers visiting segmented stores will experience a different kind of Best Buy with products and services that match their unique needs. For example, some stores will offer same-day home theater installation and others will have expert sales associates to help busy shoppers find the entertainment and technology solutions that best meet their needs.”

Best Buy said it focused its employee training at the 68 stores on types of customers rather than on typical consumer electronics product categories.

“Our goal is to transform Best Buy into a customer-driven, talent-powered enterprise that is focused on enhancing our customers’ enjoyment of technology,” said Mr. Keskey. “Achieving that goal requires continual innovation. We plan to continue our customer research and development by experimenting with new and creative ways to put the customer in the middle of our operating model.”

Moderator’s Comments: Is Best Buy on to something with its customer centricity strategy? What will be the difference between success or failure for these
stores?


Best Buy’s initiative sounds great and, if it pulls it off, it would mean the company was able to establish clear points of difference between itself and
competitors ranging from Wal-Mart to Circuit City.


That said, we’re taking a Missourian’s approach to this pilot project. Best Buy executives usually say the right thing, doing it is another subject altogether.


It wasn’t that long ago, Mike Keskey was saying the company would have to scale back its plans for customer centric stores because it couldn’t find enough
“leadership” and “talent” among its own ranks to make it work. (see RW 6/17/04, Best Buy
In Need of Few More Good Men and Women
)

George Anderson – Moderator

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