Digital gains are changing how Best Buy puts its associates to work
Best Buy last week laid off some in-store workers and told others their weekly hours would be reduced as digital increasingly drives the chain’s sales growth, according to The Wall Street Journal.
One employee told the paper that he quit because he could no longer accumulate enough hours to qualify for insurance.
“Customer shopping behavior will be permanently changed in a way that is even more digital and puts customers entirely in control to shop how they want,” Best Buy said in a media statement. “Our workforce will need to evolve to meet the evolving needs of customers while providing more flexible opportunities for our people.”
Best Buy’s third-quarter comps jumped 23 percent, driven by a 174 percent spike in e-commerce. Online sales doubled to 35 percent up from 16 percent a year ago.
On Best Buy’s quarterly call, Corie Barry, CEO, said that with the accelerated digital shift, the chain is piloting numerous labor and store initiatives. This includes positioning about a quarter of its U.S. stores as hubs to support significantly more online order volume.
Management’s efforts to create a more “flexible workforce” and/or having staff handle multiple roles is expected “to drive efficiencies in labor planning and cost.” A computing specialist, for instance, could take a shift in the mobile department or home delivery.
Ms. Barry said Best Buy is also “evolving the way we position employees to serve customers based on need, irrespective of channel.”
Toward that end, the company has cross-trained about 450 store associates to help customers via phone and chat as those types of interactions have been “significantly higher” during the pandemic. Another 5,000 are also being trained to “flex into digital sales, if needed, based on demand,” Ms. Barry said.
Digital has likewise become a “meaningful percentage of the mix” of Best Buy’s consultative services, although home visits still make up the majority.
“As we improve the technology and experience for digital interactions, it opens up the opportunity for our advisors to reach even more customers,” said Ms. Barry. “Fundamentally, our strategy and competitive advantage depends heavily on our people and the differentiated service we provide our customers.”
- Best Buy Is Cutting Some Store Workers’ Jobs, Reducing Hours – The Wall Street Journal
- Best Buy cuts store jobs, reduces hours of other workers – Minneapolis Star Tribune
- Best Buy Reports Third Quarter Results – Best Buy
- BBY.N – Q3 2021 Best Buy Co Inc Earnings Call – Best Buy/Thomson StreetEvents
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think Best Buy’s move to trim in-store staffing is more about adding flexibility, de-emphasizing traditional in-store selling roles, or a bit of both? What kinds of customer-facing retail jobs do you see gaining more importance in the years ahead?