Mat Povse, Senior Vice President, Best Buy Retail & Geek Squad Services, said through the two years of the pandemic people have become much more dependent on technology.
“They’re learning. They’re working. And they’re entertaining and they’re taking care of themselves more at home with the help of tech,” he said. “We’ve become very relevant in that regard. And customers have changed the way they’re shopping with retailers like Best Buy.
“We’ve learned as a retailer we’ve had to really adapt and figure out how we can serve those customers. One of the ways we’ve done that is we’ve asked our stores to do more than they do today. Asked our stores not to just help the customer that walks into the store but also to serve the customer who may not be stepping foot into a store. They’ve become part of the sort of support system for customers no matter how they choose to shop at Best Buy.”
“That means when customers buy online we have that inventory in their neighbourhood at a local store that we can ship from store or we can have it picked, packed and ready for curbside or in-store pickup. And you can imagine now as we think about this change that’s been happening we took a market like Edmonton and said to ourselves how can we continue to serve those customers better in this way with the use of our stores. We also identified that there are areas within Edmonton where we couldn’t actually install a Best Buy store and help serve and make access to customers in a certain community like Sherwood Park- a Best Buy they can depend on.”
So rather than building the same store the company has everywhere else it came up with the concept of the small format store. The store is scheduled to open in a few weeks in 7,700 square feet of space.
“More than half of the store is going to be allocated to warehouse space for inventory and the rest of the store will be allocated to really your traditional retail experience where there’s product on the display but one of the things you’ll notice is it’s going to have a central desk, or a central counter, where customers don’t have to navigate throughout a big store to find services for mobile activations or pay for the products. It’s now all centered in one part of the store,” said Povse.
“Rather than thinking of it as just another standalone store, it’s actually a store that gets added to the network of stores within the Edmonton market and all these stores cooperate together with shared inventory and a market-based approach to serving customers no matter how they choose to shop with Best Buy.”
The company does have one other small format in Canada in Cornwall, Ontario but it was designed in a different time. It too is small and has a warehouse in the back but the new store in Sherwood Park is different.
Best Buy Canada operates 159 retail locations across Canada including big box and Best Buy Mobile stores.
“The store isn’t just a small version of a Best Buy. It’s a store that does everything that Best Buy does. It’s got highly-trained blue shirts in there and you can do all the things you can do in a regular Best Buy store. It’s just much more convenient for you to get to. If you want the much more full-blown experience and walk through vendor displays in a 30,000-square-foot box, you drive 20 minutes and you’re in one of our big box stores,” said Povse.
“If you’re doing an online search and you want to buy that particular laptop and it’s in stock we can have it picked, packed and ready for you in 20 minutes, you show up and it’s there right in your neighbourhood. It’s a complement to our existing network of stores.”
Povse said Best Buy is playing with concepts as well for its existing stores, with inventory stores, and other small format stores.
“What we see here is an opportunity to look at other like markets and play around with our retail model to make sure that we’re building a much more elaborate and complementary ecosystem,” he said.