Some years ago, “…Best Buy’s management team realized a big box filled with stuff wasn’t all that appealing to a lot of people.” This is when the company began to focus squarely on providing customers with a better experience.
Best Buy has since made improvements to the experience, such as matching prices and displaying related products together (like placing cables and accessories next to TVs). But arguably the most important change the company has made is integrating its online and offline experience to facilitate a variety of omnichannel buyers’ journeys.
According to Forester, the projected growth rate for pure digital in 2018 is $48 billion, but the projected growth rate of in-store purchases that begin digitally is $69 billion. So, from a hard dollar standpoint, the largest dollar growth is from people still starting their journey online and buying in store. But the majority of retail brands still approach digital versus brick and mortar as their own channel silos, which creates inconsistencies, annoyances and other roadblocks for customers as they navigate between the two. It’s not just about doing digital well and doing the in-store experience well—it’s about understanding these channels together and how they must interact.
What Best Buy has mastered is allowing the customer to dictate how he or she interacts with the brand, providing a seamless, omnichannel experience throughout the buyer’s journey.
Yes, many customers do their initial research online and then visit the store to check out products, ask questions of the Blue Shirts and complete the transaction. But there are also customers that would rather have their TV delivered to their home after transacting in store (instead of lugging that thing out themselves). Some customers want the television NOW—they research and transact online, then go pick up same-day in the store. Others check out products in store, then go home to compare prices and buy online. And some visit the website numerous times to research and (finally!) complete their transaction online, as well.
As Steve Dennis explains in this Forbes article:
"Most customer journeys will start in a digital channel (and more and more this means on a mobile device) and the challenge is to make all the potentially disparate elements of the shopping experience sing together as a harmonious whole."
Best Buy understands the critical linkage between digital and physical experiences. Integration of the two puts the customer in the driver’s seat—lets customers shop how they want to shop. Regardless of how the customer wants to browse, evaluate and buy a Best Buy product, the company supports all journeys well.
More retailers need to understand that it’s not about the individual channels; it’s about accommodating the buyer’s desired journey with the brand. Brands must allow the buyer to move freely between all channels in the ways that they want, not in in the ways that the marketers want.
Achieve this, and your brand will be far more valuable to the customer than a big box filled with stuff.