COVID-19 constraints limit Best Buy’s ESL plans

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Best Buy

Best Buy is cutting back the scope of an electronic shelf label (ESL) rollout as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

In December 2019 and February 2020, Best Buy placed orders with Sweden-based digital shelf edge solutions provider Pricer to equip nearly 680 stores in the U.S. with Pricer’s ESL system during 2020 at a total value of around $92.5 million. As a consequence of constraints to operate stores fully due to COVID-19, Best Buy and Pricer have come to an agreement to reduce the scope of the project by 150 stores and to delay the delivery of 40 stores into 2021. 

The revised total project value is estimated to $82 million, of which 490 stores, equivalent to approximately$76 million, remain scheduled for delivery during 2020.

“Given these extraordinary circumstances, we have slowed the installation of electronic signs in our stores”, said Brian Tilzer, chief digital and technology officer at Best Buy. “The electronic signs we have in some Best Buy stores are improving experience for employees and customers, and we look forward to expanding this impact as we deploy this technology more broadly in our chain in the future.”

“These unusual circumstances require pragmatic and collaborative efforts”, said Pricer CEO Helena Holmgren. “Pricer and Best Buy have embarked on a long-term partnership for in-store digital communication that extends well beyond COVID-19 and our focus will remain on enabling Best Buy to execute its digital strategy as efficiently as possible.”

Best Buy shifted all its stores to curbside pickup-only on March 22 on an interim basis in an effort to help protect customers and employees and keep up with surging demand for home office products during the COVID-19 outbreak. If a customer is unable to place an online order and the product is in stock in the store, employees can go into the store to claim the item for the customer and sell it to them curbside.