Best Buy revealed several new strategies that provide a glimpse into retailing of the future.
The chain is developing augmented reality shopping that lets consumers see how a product will look in their own home by using the camera on their cellphone, said CEO Corrie Barry on an analyst call today.
The company is also developing a “self-service, in-aisle check out for select SKUs.” The service apparently allows consumers to virtually shop the aisles and check out digitally.
Best Buy is also focusing heavily on “consultations” with customers, which evolved from being mainly in-home by specially trained agents. Now the consultations can be virtual or by phone or free in-store. Best Buy agents are being trained to handle different tiers of consultations. Geek Squad agents are also now being trained to work in call centers to handle phone support.
Barry said Best Buy is developing a “customer obsessed approach that is primarily digital.”
In other alerts for retailers, Best Buy said it will start advertising for Christmas earlier in the year, and therefore is planning to spend more on advertising this half.
It is expecting higher than typical sales in Q3, although not quite as strong as in recent weeks.
Despite being open on an appointment-only basis for the first six weeks of the recent quarter, Best Buy saw a four percent increase in sales. In the last seven weeks of the quarter, ended August 1, revenue rose 16 percent.
Best Buy also reported on the first three weeks of Q3. Sales rose 20 percent during this recent period compared to last year.
Best Buy Chief Financial Officer Matt Bilunas said of the coming months, “Overall, as we plan for the back half of the year, we continue to weigh many factors including potential future government stimulus actions, the current shift in personal consumption expenditures from areas like travel and dining out, the possible depth and duration of the pandemic, the risk of higher unemployment over time, and the availability of inventory to match customer demand.”
He also admitted, “We don’t have as much inventory as we’d like right now.”
Best Buy’s US sales surpassed $9 billion, on an increase of 3.5 percent over the period last year led mainly by computers, appliances and tablets. These offset declines in sales of smartphones, digital imaging and services.
Online revenue grew an incredible 242 percent to $4.85 billion. Online sales accounted for 53 percent of total domestic sales, compared to its share of only 16 percent last year.
Best Buy reported net income of $432 million, compared with $238 million a year ago.