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CEO Shares Best Practices for ‘Safe Retailing’ During the Pandemic

In 48 hours in late March, Corie Barry, the new CEO of Best Buy, made a flurry of decisions that dramatically transformed the electronics retailer: On March 22, Best Buy stopped allowing shoppers inside all 1,000 of its US stores. Instead, employees would run orders out to customers waiting curbside.

Barry landed the top job at the electronics chain last June by plotting a path forward for Best Buy that deftly navigated shifts in e-commerce. Now, as she approaches her first anniversary, she’s again re-imagining the company’s future. After Best Buy switched to curbside pickup, sales dropped just 30% compared with the prior year’s. While this proved a much smaller hit than what other retailers suffered, Barry still had to furlough 51,000 of the company’s 125,000 employees—and take a 50% pay cut herself.

As consumers loaded up on groceries to prepare for the pandemic, they also stocked up on Best Buy fridges and freezers. Lines outside stores stretched around the block, forcing Barry to adjust the model on the fly. “At least one customer in that line tracked down my phone number to let me know people were not socially distanced in that line,” she says.

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For years, Best Buy has operated on a thesis that homes will become more “connected” with technology; the coronavirus has sped up that trend. “Never has our purpose been more real,” she says…  Fortune

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