Best Buy is doubling down on its commitment to ecommerce with a new four-store pilot that will reduce the shoppable area so that these stores can better operate as fulfillment hubs. Four Minneapolis locations will reduce their shoppable square footage to approximately 15,000 square feet, down from an average of 27,000 square feet, focusing on a limited number of SKUs from its most popular items and categories.
The shift will give these stores more space for staging in-store pickup and additional support for ship-from-store transactions. Additionally, the move will create backroom space for items that are sold online but wouldn’t normally appear on the sales floor, further enhancing fulfillment capabilities.
One of the new concept locations will feature a larger space dedicated to the retailer’s popular Geek Squad, testing whether this format can complement other aspects of Best Buy’s omnichannel capabilities. Another store will put a greater emphasis on in-store pickup by reorienting its warehouse to be adjacent to the curbside and locker areas.
The new store models build on Best Buy’s existing fulfillment model, which includes 250 designated ship-from-store locations and plans to add 90 more during the holiday period. These 340 locations are expected to account for more than 70% of ship-from-store units during Q4 2020, and will help the retailer extend the online order cut-off for next-day delivery to 8 pm.
“All our stores will continue to ship online orders, but these locations are positioned to ship out significantly more volume and utilize dedicated labor aimed at fulfilling orders originating online,” said Corie Barry, CEO of Best Buy on a call with investors. “These locations required minimal capital investment as we had the technology in place, and were chosen due to their available warehouse space and proximity to carrier partners.”
Best Buy’s new emphasis on flexibility also will carry over to its associates. The retailer plans to continue training workers to perform tasks outside their primary job function, from staffing different departments to making deliveries during peak times. One major area for cross-training is remote support: Best Buy already has taught 450 dedicated store associates to assist customers over phone and chat, and is currently training 5,000 more to help with digital sales queries so they can assist during peak volume periods this holiday season.