Testing Remodeled Stores during Busy Holiday Season

curbside pickup

Some of the Best Buy stores that dot the Twin Cities have begun to function a little differently — with more employees working like Santa’s elves preparing items for delivery and pickup and fewer square feet dedicated to in-store shopping.

With a record number of online sales due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Richfield-based electronics retailer has redesigned a handful of stores in the metro and recalibrated a chunk of stores across the country to focus more on fulfilling online orders.

While the final results of its pilots are still left to be seen, retail experts said what Best Buy is doing during one of the retailer’s busiest times will set it up well for the future.

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“Best Buy is hands down the smartest retailer of 2020. … It is incredibly scientific in its approach,” said Chris Walton, a former Target executive who co-runs retail blog and podcast Omni Talk and Minneapolis retail lab and co-working space Third Haus. “It’s a series of micro experiments.”

Best Buy has tried to be nimble throughout the pandemic. For example, it temporarily closed stores to foot traffic in the spring and offered only curbside pickup and delivery. It made consecutive changes throughout the last few months to test different capabilities, Walton said. Most recently, it announced it had expanded curbside pickup before and after regular store hours.

At the center of Best Buy’s constant changes has been how it utilizes its stores to fulfill orders. Ship-from-store fulfillment is not a new concept. Both Best Buy and Minneapolis-based Target have invested in the fulfillment model for years. Last month, Target reported more than 95% of its third-quarter sales were fulfilled by its stores… Star Tribune

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