Best Buy has opened a digital-first trial store in Monroe, North Carolina. The small-scale 5,000- square-foot store (less than 15% the size of a typical Best Buy store) offers customers a range of tech products they can test in-store, including wearable devices, smart home appliances and computing tools.
Similar to Apple stores, customers can test and purchase items directly from the floor, as well as liaise with a “Geek Squad” for any questions or issues. Best Buy is, however, looking to make this entire process digital, encouraging visitors to shop, communicate with experts and check out items using the Best Buy app. Products on display come with QR codes for shoppers to scan, with shop assistants bringing these to the correct customer to test out. Live shopping assistance is also available, with experts on hand through Best Buy’s virtual store, contactable via voice or video call.
Lockers for large-scale items are placed outside the store for customers looking to contactlessly collect larger, online orders, while a 7-foot tall screen will greet customers as soon as they enter the store to give information on the shop’s offerings.
Customer habits continue to be impacted by the pandemic, with an increased demand for a contactless and more streamlined shopping experience, as well as ongoing inflation levels putting a damper on customer spending habits. To meet this changing climate, retailers are harnessing digital tools including robotic assistants, wearable scanning devices and automated deliveries of online orders to not only provide a contactless experience but also reduce labor costs as stores feel the squeeze of reduced shoppers.
Best Buy’s news comes as part of its business model to experiment with new store formats to “better serve…customers’ needs in an ever-growing digital world.” If the Monroe store is shown to be successful, further iterations of the digital-first model may be rolled out on a wider scale.