Family & Lifestyle

Best Buy Shows Why Hybrid Retail Wins

Overview Best Buy CEO Corie Barry took to the all-digital CES® 2021 keynote stage to share the secret to Best Buy’s success during a year when retail was turned on its head.

Most CEOs face unexpected challenges in their first year on the job, but for Best Buy CEO Corie Barry, this was especially true as the world was suddenly made to navigate through a pandemic as she was just getting settled in the role.

As the world stayed at home and shifted to remote work and education, Barry led her team to resiliently meet customer needs that were changing overnight. Shopping trends evolved suddenly, and retailers had to meet the challenge of keeping supply in stores.

Yet amid the mass digital transformation in 2020 and the increase in adoption for online services, Barry believes the hybrid retail model was a differentiator for Best Buy.


How Hybrid Competes with Online

Through 2020, Best Buy also saw online sales increasing — Barry quoted an 175% increase in the third quarter of 2020. But many of those sales were being picked up curbside or in stores.

While many turned to delivery, it became clear that there was still a demand for people to purchase and have an item as soon as they want it. Best Buy’s flexibility in including curbside and online delivery while maintaining in store operations turned out to be a successful model.

“Do [customers] want to come in the store, do they want to get [their purchase] curbside? Are they okay waiting for us to ship it?” Barry said. “We need to agnostically meet that customer wherever they are, and I think that’s going to be the future of retailing.”

Barry also described how the physical store acts as a fulfillment epicenter but also plays an integral role in customer support and interactions. Even — or especially — during the pandemic, these interactions allow customers to trust the retailers.

It is not just about this year or this moment in time. It is about how each of us continuously is iterating and thinking about how we drive change for the long term.

Corie Barry
CEO, Best Buy

How Hybrid Will Raise the Bar

Some trends that have come from the past year may fade while others — such as telehealth or digital adoption — may only accelerate.

In retail, customer expectations may push the industry to maintain the delivery trends that have come to life.

“Once you have a great experience with one retailer, you expect that experience from everyone else,” Barry said. “I think customer expectations will also be raised in terms of what they can get done digitally, but importantly, in whatever way they want.”

Best Buy’s multi-pronged hybrid business model, which has allowed the company to truly reach its customers in a variety of ways, may set the consumer standard for personalized shopping experiences even after the pandemic.


Making Retail Even Better

For Best Buy, part of making retail better for customers is also focusing on making sure Best Buy reflects every community.

“We have almost a thousand stores all over this country in a variety of communities,” Barry said. “We need to reflect every customer that’s coming into our stores.”

Working on diversity and inclusion within the company representation and technology inequality, Barry aims to drive change that matters — continuously.

“The message that I have is one of resilience in this work,” she said. “It is not just about this year or this moment in time. It is about how each of us continuously is iterating and thinking about how we drive change for the long term.”

Watch the Best Buy Keynote

In this conversation at CES 2021 with tech retailer Best Buy, CEO Corie Barry discusses her vision for the future of tech, leading through the pandemic and why diversity and inclusion is good for business.

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