Joly announced a price-matching guarantee.“Until I match Amazon’s prices, the customers are ours to lose,” Mr. Price-matching costs Best Buy real money, but it also gives customers a reason to stay in the store, and avoids handing business to competitors. Joly also realized that if Best Buy was going to compete with Amazon, which has spent billions building a speedy delivery system and plans to use drones to become even more efficient, it needed to get better at things that robots can’t do well — namely, customer service. Joly visited Best Buy stores near the company’s Minnesota headquarters to ask rank-and-file employees about the struggles they encountered.
(Among their gripes: an internal search engine that was returning bad data about which items were in stock.)Best Buy fixed the search engine.
The most worrisome trend in big-box retail was “showrooming” — customers were testing new products in stores before buying them for less money online from another retailer.
To combat showrooming and persuade customers to complete their purchases at Best Buy, Mr.
He trimmed a layer of middle managers in 2014, and reassigned roughly 400 Geek Squad employees within the company.
But he has never announced a huge, public round of layoffs, which can crater employee morale and create a sinking-ship vibe.“Taking people out is the last resort,” Mr. “Because you need to capture the hearts and minds of the employees.”Best Buy has also found more creative penny-pinching methods.It’s lucky that several large competitors have gone out of business, shrinking its list of rivals.And it’s lucky that the vendors who make the products it sells, like Apple and Samsung, have kept churning out expensive blockbuster gadgets.“They’re at the mercy of the product cycles,” said Stephen Baker, a tech industry analyst at NPD Group.It also restored a much-loved employee discount that had been suspended and embarked on an ambitious program to retrain its employees so they could answer questions about entirely new categories of electronics, such as virtual reality headsets and smart home appliances.“The associates in our stores are much more engaged now, much more proficient,” Mr. Customers had always loved Best Buy’s Geek Squad, its army of specially trained tech support experts who could be hired to mount TVs and install other appliances at a customer’s home.But sometimes, people needed help before they bought big and expensive gadgets.Best Buy has “really come through the valley by making investments around the customer experience,” said Peter Keith, a retail analyst with Piper Jaffray. Joly arrived at Best Buy, the company’s online ordering system was completely divorced from its stores.If a customer placed an order on the website, it would ship from a central warehouse.But Best Buy’s rebound has been surprisingly durable.Revenue figures have beaten Wall Street’s expectations in six of the last seven quarters.It was a small, subtle change, but it allowed Best Buy to improve its shipping times, and made immediate gratification possible for customers.Now, roughly 40 percent of Best Buy’s online orders are either shipped or picked up from a store.