business news in context, analysis with attitude

CNBC has  a story about what it calls Best Buy's "new reality" - "Selling to customers in stores by appointment only. Offering virtual tech support. And serving frustrated, sometimes hostile, customers."

Best Buy, CNBC says, "has always been a place to touch and see the latest gadgets and electronics with its hands-on displays. But the company had to rethink that model as customers and employees worried about getting sick."

The story goes on:

"CEO Corie Barry explained her decision to close stores to customers and allow them back to stores, but by appointment only. She said the approach is a safer way to serve customers. And, she said, the personalized sales experience is a better fit for the retailer, which sells big-ticket items like gaming consoles, kitchen appliances and home theater systems … When customers come in for their appointment, she said they get tailored one-on-one service — including a phone call before their visit to better understand and cater to their needs. That improves their experience and their impression of the company, she said."

CNBC writes that "Barry said the company will continue to adapt and test new ways to serve customers — even as the pandemic makes it difficult to forecast the future. She said the way Best Buy does business won’t look the same across the country. Instead, she said, it will tailor its service to different regions and offer choices to customers that help put them at ease … With its appointment-only model, customers get one-on-one attention from a mask-wearing employee. The employee escorts the customer around the store, wipes down everything he or she touches and offers advice. Each customer gets a half hour appointment, though they can book more time, Barry said.

"So far, she said demand has been highest with large home appliances. Home theater equipment has also been popular, she said."

KC's View:

Not everyone can do what Best Buy can do.  But I think most would agree that it has shown itself to be a surprisingly nimble competitor.