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Review of Best Buy.com’s online store and eCommerce offering

The first thing that jumps out to me about BestBuy.com is that it hasn't kept up with the changing monitor resolution landscape. About 45 percent of my monitor real estate is whitespace when I view BestBuy.com and the website only occupies the left hand side of my monitor. Ignify's research shows that the average online shopper now has a monitor resolution that is 1280 x 800 or higher. Best Buy has tailored its website to be at 1024 x 768 — which (to give credit) used to be the standard monitor configuration. However, most shoppers moved past that many months ago with 75 percent now having a monitor resolution that is higher than 1024×768. Best Buy opting for lower resolution is an annoyance and poor use of technology.

Given the volume of transactions that the site processes, I would have expected BestBuy.com to use the Amazon.com model of resizing the site to the user's monitor resolution so that the white space is eliminated.

I often shop at Best Buy for two reasons — great prices on laptops and desktops and a very well-integrated in-store pick up process. The in-store pick up is important because I can get items the same day as opposed to having to wait until the next day or two days with other online-only retailers. That is certainly a competitive advantage that Best Buy brings to the table over most online retailers. Also, the process is very well integrated and my order is usually ready for pick up in about two hours from the time of placing the order.

I've also used the pickup service when I needed to buy items for a tradeshow in another city. This service allows me to ensure that the product is guaranteed available wherever I am picking up in addition to saving me costs on shipping. However, my experience has been that the in-store pick up experience itself has been underwhelming. The store agents often are chattering amongst themselves at the pickup counter and are often confused about what to do about an order placed outside the physical store. While the technology for pick up is well integrated, the people handling the final stage of the online order destroy the slickness of the overall experience. Better training and more focus on the customer would help streamline the process and make this a great differentiator for Best Buy.

When it comes to certain categories like laptops, desktops and a few other electronic items, Best Buy does have incredible pricing. I have accounts at nearly all major online electronic retailers including Buy.com and Amazon.com, and find that in these limited categories Best Buy does an incredible job of keeping the pricing very competitive.

Some of the gripes that I do have are that the cross-sell recommendations are not relevant enough and that the customer reviews are very limited. While BestBuy.com has reviews, there are just not as many as you see at Amazon. Perhaps this is because they provided the ability to give reviews much later. Very often I find myself looking up the same product on Amazon that I'm planning to buy on Best Buy to validate the reviews. That behavior (and I know from talking to other people that I'm not an exception) is dangerous to Best Buy because I am leaving their site to go to another site and there is a chance that I may complete the purchase elsewhere.

Best Buy could strengthen its review process by following up purchases with a "Review the product" email a few weeks after the purchase is completed. That step usually drives up reviews.

The cross-sells (which Best Buy calls accessories) are an important part of trying to understand how the product works best. For example, a memory upgrade or a netbook sleeve with a netbook are great cross-sell items and make the purchase experience easier as well as more profitable for Best Buy. However, most of the cross-sell items are not well researched and don't seem to be based on customer behavior. Instead they seem to be based on what Best Buy would like to sell with the product. The best sites analyze the customer purchase history and recommend the related products or cross-sells based on shopping history. Best Buy needs to bring some of that analysis to the forefront.

Best Buy brings a great value proposition to the customer with its in-store pick sup backed by a large chain of brick and mortar stores combined with attractive pricing. Improvements in the analytics, product comparison and reviews are in order and Best Buy could take a page from online-only retailers such as Amazon as its benchmark.

What's Good

  • Well-integrated store pick-up service with its entire chain of retail stores
  • Incredible pricing in select categories

What's Not So Good

  • Customer experience at pick-up service in the store is underwhelming
  • Web site size is not in tune with users monitor resolution, leaving considerable white space
  • Cross-sell recommendations are not based on purchase history and are less relevant than they should be

Sandeep Walia is the President & CEO of Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, and eCommerce software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify is a Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle Partner  and ranked in the top 18 Microsoft Dynamics partners. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 3 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine.

  1. Rajeev
    December 6th, 2009 at 22:09 | #1

    Awesome analysis Sandeep!
    Reading your views kind of tought me about a perfect "GAP ANALYSIS"

  2. July 14th, 2010 at 10:55 | #2

    Good analysis!  I wish some of these sites would take your advice!  Now for my analysis.  I find a lot of ecommerce sites don't have the best security solutions.  http://www.payvision.com is a great site for <a href="http://www.payvision.com/">ecommerce solutions</a>.  Keep it in mind if you are in ecommerce!

  1. November 25th, 2009 at 06:52 | #1