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Best Buy Puts its Tech Foot Forward With Small-Format, Digital-First Store

Best Buy will open its first ever small-format, digital-first store in Monroe, N.C. The 5,000-square foot shop will build on the small-format pilot program Best Buy started with a test model in Charlotte, N.C. in late 2021.

The Monroe store will feature a curated product selection, access to services including Geek Squad and new ways to pick up purchases, including pickup lockers. The new digital-first shopping experience will encourage customers to do everything, from shopping and selecting a product to getting advice digitally, while in the store. Some of the digital innovations include:

  • A 7-foot-tall digital display that explains what’s new and how customers can shop inside the store;
  • The ability to scan products’ QR codes with a phone to send the order to a pickup counter, where an associate will take it out of the backroom and bring it to the register to complete the transaction; and
  • A collection of grab-and-go items like charging cables, cell phone cases and gift cards that can be paid for using the Best Buy app for seamless self-checkout.

While the store is putting an emphasis on digital services, it will be fully staffed by associates who can help shoppers in-person.

The product selection will include products from the home theater and audio, computing, headphones, wearables, fitness, cell phones, cameras, smart home and small appliances categories, but the store won’t carry large appliances. However, shoppers can still order them online and pick them up at the Monroe location.

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Best Buy isn’t the only major retailer experimenting with smaller-format stores:

  • Macy’s is continuing to expand its smaller-format, off-mall presence with plans to open three new Market by Macy’s locations and one joint Market by Macy’s/Macy’s Backstage store by fall 2022;
  • Kohl’s plans to open more than 100 new, small-format Kohl’s stores over the next four years, which will be a key element of the retailer’s plans to manage its own turnaround rather than pursue a sale; and
  • Google, which opened a second NYC store with an emphasis on a “neighborhood store” format, features a “more intimate” footprint than its Chelsea flagship and design elements celebrating the shop’s location.

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