A CIO hiring rarely makes headline retail news. But Best Buy did just that in naming Stephen Gillett, who oversaw Starbucks' recent digital conquests, to head Bestbuy.com and the electronic retailer's other digital efforts.
"E-commerce is one of the fastest-growing sales channels for our business," Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn said in a statement. "We want to build on that momentum and Stephen's track record makes it clear that he can help us engage customers online in even more compelling ways."
Named in 2011 as one of only two CIOs on Fortune's "Executive Dream Team" among 25 executives recognized, Mr. Gillett's resume includes stints at Yahoo, CNet Networks, Sun Microsystems and Corbis, a digital media company owned by Bill Gates. A former offensive guard for the University of Oregon football team, his reputation has been further padded by his video gaming prowess. He ranks among the top guild masters in the popular World of Warcraft online game.
But Best Buy hired him for his feats helping Starbucks re-engage customers through digital channels.
Joining Starbucks in 2008 as part of the reorganization led by returning Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, Mr. Gillett, 36, oversaw the rollout of free Wi-Fi access across Starbucks locations and introduced the Starbucks Digital Network whereby customers received free publications, including The Wall Street Journal and free music downloads from iTunes inside locations.
Under his watch, a mobile payments program was launched last year with a close tie-in to Starbucks loyalty cards and a stream of mobile apps have debuted that were regularly cited as at the forefront of the industry. Its iPhone app launched last summer provided the ability to send Starbucks gift cards via a mobile device.
Mr. Gillett said that by blending channels in a "harmonious way," Best Buy will raise the game for retailing.
In response, Starbucks promoted Adam Brotman to chief digital officer and Curt Garner to chief information officer to fill Mr. Gillett's roles in what was positioned as a deepening digital commitment. In a statement, Mr. Schultz pointed to the "rapid adoption" of social and digital media as a primary means of connection and communication, adding, "we have recognized this shift and have made it a priority to establish a position on the leading edge of innovation and are now taking this a step further."
How much more or less optimistic are you about Best Buy's turnaround efforts on the news that Stephen Gillett will be joining the consumer electronics retailer?