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Best Buy unveils small-format, ‘digital-first’ store

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Best Buy has opened its first-ever, small-format digitally focused store as part of its test of new store models.

The 5,000-sq.-ft. store, located in Monroe, N.C.,  combines a curated selection of Best Buy’s best-in-category products, consultation service areas including and the retailer’s signature Geek Squad with technology enhancements.

The assortment covers home theater and audio, computing, headphones, wearables, fitness, cell phones, cameras, smart home, small appliances and more. It excludes major appliances and other larger products (with the exception of large TVs). The large items can be purchased on Best Buy’s website and picked up at the Monroe outpost or shopped for at any of Best Buy’s traditional stores in the Charlotte area.

The Monroe store is piloting a “digital-first” shopping experience that encourages customers to shop, get advice and check out digitally. (The retailer noted that, similar to all pilots, it expects to make adjustments along the way.)

Entering the store, shoppers see a 7-foot-tall digital display that explains what’s new and how they can shop the store.

Here are some other features:

Just scan it. The majority of products are primarily on display for customers to see, touch and try out.

When ready to make a purchase, customers can use their phone to scan the QR code on the product and send the order to be picked up at the order pickup counter.  This notifies a Best Buy employee, who will then retrieve the product from the store’s backroom and bring it up to the register for the customer to complete the purchase.  (In addition, lockers are available  for 24/store pick-up orders.)

•Mobile self-checkout.  The store has a collection of grab-and-go items such as charging cables, cell phone cases and gift cards. Using the Best Buy app, customers scan the barcode and use the mobile self-checkout option to make a purchase.

•Get expert advice. Customers who need advice will also have the option to shop live with an expert from Best Buy’s virtual store via call, chat or video chat while in the physical store.

“For those shoppers who prefer not to use these digital options, our trusted Blue Shirts will still be available to help just like at any other Best Buy store,” the company stated.

In November 2021, Best Buy said it planned to test several new store models in the Charlotte area as it looks to meet customers’ varied and changing needs. The models include an experiential store in Charlotte that features premium experiences for audio, home theater and luxury appliances, an in-store selection of fitness equipment and a larger Geek Squad services area. 

Best Buy is also testing a new outlet format, in Pineville, N.C., that is designed to handle more repairs than a traditional store, including everything from a cracked phone screen to a broken washing machine. It also boasts a massive garage that can handle more car tech installations — ranging from new speakers to remote start systems — than most locations.

[Read More: Best Buy to double outlet store count; four upcoming locations announced]

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