Will Best Buy win Christmas with free shipping, setup and live chat?

Discussion
Oct 23, 2015

Competitors from Amazon to Walmart are on notice. Best Buy is serious about growing its business over the upcoming holiday season with free shipping, special early sales events and improved service that others will be hard-pressed to match.

While free shipping has become table stakes over the past few holiday selling seasons, Best Buy is looking to get a head start with the offer kicking it off this Sunday and running through Jan. 2, 2016. There is no minimum order required to qualify for the offer on items sold by and shipped from the retailer. Last year, Best Buy required a $35 minimum for customers to qualify for free shipping.

Best Buy is upping the ante by offering free setup on some of the products on its top tech gift list. After purchasing a qualifying gift, Best Buy will give customers instructions on how to set up a one-on-one appointment with a member of its Geek Squad. Beginning on Nov. 1, the chain will publish a list of items on its site that qualify for free setup.

Best Buy’s top 15 tech gifts for 2015

1. iPad
2. Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise Cancelling Headphones
3. MacBook
4. Samsung 48" Smart 4K Ultra HD TV
5. Sharp 43" Smart HDTV with Roku
6. Microsoft Surface
7. Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker II
8. Fitbit Charge HR Heart Rate and Activity Tracker
9. Samsung Galaxy Tab S2
10. Dyson V6 Absolute Bagless Cordless Vacuum
11. Vizio 43" Smart 4K Ultra HD TV
12. Apple Watch
13. SONOS PLAY:1 Wireless Speaker
14. iRobot Roomba Vacuum Cleaning Robot
15. GoPro HERO4 Action Camera

Best Buy Blue Assist

Photo: Best Buy

Interestingly, five of the items on Best Buy’s list of top 15 tech gifts are among the favorite items that its customers have named for self-gifting purposes. These include the iPad (19 percent), Sharp 43" Smart HDTV with Roku (16 percent), Samsung 48" Smart 4K Ultra HD TV (15 percent), Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise Cancelling Headphones (15 percent) and MacBook (15 percent).

Best Buy is also looking to push what it views as its service advantage with BlueAssist, a new live-chat feature in the company’s mobile app. Now, customers can get live assistance to answer questions about products, orders and more even if associates in the store are tied up with other customers.

As part of its campaign to capture shoppers for the holiday season well before Thanksgiving, Best Buy is also holding special sales events at 400 of its stores on Nov. 7 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. local time. The events will include special sale prices (applicable to all Best Buy stores), free tech gifts to the first 100 customers, entry into a Twitter sweepstakes to win one of five $1,000 Best Buy gift cards and robot and virtual reality tech demonstrations by members of the Geek Squad.

Do you expect Best Buy to have a strong holiday selling season based on the package of deals and services it has put together? What element of the program do you see as most critical to the chain’s success for the holidays and beyond?

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Braintrust
"By constraining the dates, even Best Buy is acknowledging that this offer is not sustainable. Secondly, their offer to commit to a one-to-one set-up time with a member of the Geek Squad is compelling but shallow."

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13 Comments on "Will Best Buy win Christmas with free shipping, setup and live chat?"


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Tony Orlando
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

I got a TV from Best Buy last year around the holiday when the 4K curved Samsung 55″ came out and received free shipping, free set-up from the Geek Squad and a free speaker bar. I was very happy with this, as hi-tech set up of anything for me is impossible. They outshine others with this service, and the price of the TV was comparable to the competitors who just ship things. Best Buy does have a good thing going for now, and they did a great job for me. Guess where I’m going for my next generation TV? That’s right, Best Buy.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

I do! Service in-store is the key, I think. Service levels have improved tremendously. By taking shipping and price off the table, the company gets to compete on people and services. Hey, I’m in.

Adrian Weidmann
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

The campaign outlined by Best Buy will certainly give them an advantage over Amazon and Walmart for units sold this holiday season in the consumer electronics category. It will be interesting to see the cost to Best Buy and whether, in the final analysis, it will be a financially beneficial program. By constraining the dates, even Best Buy is acknowledging that this offer is not sustainable.

Secondly, their offer to commit to a one-to-one set-up time with a member of the Geek Squad is compelling but shallow. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to provide meaningful one-to-one time for all those products. I suspect they are playing the odds in hopes that a very small percentage of those customers actually will request that one-to-one time. If not, they will have very upset customers and staff!

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

This could be Best Buy’s best holiday season in many years. Seems like the stars are lined up for it to happen. I have bought our last two TVs and laptops from them and am quite satisfied. We have required very little service from the Geek Squad, but when needed they were available.

Zel Bianco
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

Best Buy clearly put a lot of thought into what its customers would like and, as long as they execute well, I see this building to an excellent holiday season. Having special sales events that are before Black Friday is a great way to catch the many customers who prefer to avoid insane crowds, BlueAssist is a great way to help out all the aunts and uncles who go to Best Buy to ask someone, “is this the video game that little Jimmy has been talking about?” and the offer of free home set up and select items is nothing short of brilliant. Toys “R” Us would be wise to create a similar program!

Shep Hyken
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

In the competitive industry that Best Buy plays in, they have an opportunity to drive sales with this promotion. First, the economy is decent, which is a rising tide that lifts all boats. Second, the offer of free shipping gets them competitive with some of the other online retailers. Combine that with the in-store offers and you have a competitive package.

Best Buy will have to promote this properly for it to work. I always worry that margins are already thin, so this type of promotion must be executed flawlessly. Even an increase in sales doesn’t mean profit follows. However, once they get the customer (or a prior customer back), they have the opportunity to prove themselves and earn future business.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
Carol Spieckerman
6 years 6 months ago

Most of its holiday season initiatives are geared toward keeping shoppers engaged within the Best Buy ecosystem and mitigating “jump-offs” to other platforms/retailers. Nothing less will do because Best Buy is not winning on price. As recently as yesterday, one of my colleagues conducted a search of high-end cameras. Best Buy’s “sale” price was right on par with Amazon’s everyday price. The important takeaway isn’t just about dollars and cents, it’s about trust.

The immediate impression is that Best Buy is playing games, so not only does the sale go to Amazon based on convenience, the secondary consideration when price is comparable (Prime member. One click. Done!), but for future purchases, Best Buy lacks credibility. Not that long ago, shoppers were just looking for deals. These days, shoppers increasingly assume and expect that retailers are doing the competitive comparisons on their behalf. Any shenanigans will be punished.

Brian Kelly
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

Best Buy will have a successful holiday because of Mssr. Joly. He has been masterful in a turnaround few thought would occur. His plain-spoken vision was supported by an equally simple plan to turn around and then advance in a category that was significantly changed by the advances in digital technology.

Best Buy has terrific insight into its customer and has retooled its selling model to surprise and delight. A well-worn expression, but few deliver upon its promise. Best Buy does.

Peter J. Charness
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

I do. In a touch business where they are selling largely undifferentiated product, it’s either price or service. Price is a race to the bottom and Amazon is likely to win that one anyways.

Lee Peterson
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

There’s two things that give Best Buy hope, IMO: focus on the “Blue Shirts,” i.e. good customer service, and then Geek Squad. Little did they guess way back when, that installing CE could be such a differentiator. Apple does not, Samsung does not, Best Buy does.

Best Buy’s excellent BOPIS offering is also worthy of mention. No one else quite seems to get how important buy online pick up in/at store is yet. But Best Buy does. They’ve set aside space and simplified the process. It’s exemplary and should be raising retail heads.

Kenneth Leung
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

Other than exclusive products and availability, the only card that Best Buy has is price and service. Price is a bad way to compete on its own, so bundling with service offer is the best way to attract the holiday shopper who is looking for solution and stress reduction. The key would be to monitor the pickup rate for the Geek squad because that is a finite resource in a finite time frame, and if the Geek Squad responsiveness decreases significantly, it will be bad press at Xmas for Best Buy.

Lee Kent
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

Service, service, service! That is their win game, IMHO. Giving folks access to free set-up service gives the consumer a chance to experience the service and guess who’s likely to come back?

And that’s my 2 cents!

Matt Talbot
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

I believe there is a strong possibility Best Buy will out-perform its competition this holiday season. As proven in the last few years, customer service is incredibly important to customers, especially those that buy online and may not be able to access a store.

As the holiday season progresses, some shoppers may prefer shopping online to avoid crowds. Shipping and returns will become more important.

Similarly, customer support will be an added bonus for many customers, especially those who do not consider themselves tech-savvy. I think there is certainly an added value for products that come along with assistance.

Although these seem like great initiatives, Best Buy must promote these changes properly if they wish to see desired results.

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Braintrust
"By constraining the dates, even Best Buy is acknowledging that this offer is not sustainable. Secondly, their offer to commit to a one-to-one set-up time with a member of the Geek Squad is compelling but shallow."

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