The novel coronavirus COVID-19 crisis is making Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) look more like a custom integrator than a giant retailer these days. The company has announced plans to reopen 200 of its retail locations with appointment-only in-store consultations for customers starting in May. The plan includes a series of strict safety measures for both employees and customers that must be followed.
Best Buy has closed its locations for in-store shopping since March 22 and gone to a curbside pickup business model in response to the virus. The company also furloughed 51,000 employees on April 15. But the company recognizes that some purchases require a consultation with a Best Buy Blue Shirt associate, such as large appliances and networking equipment.
With the new in-store consultation service, customers will be able to schedule appointments for their tech essential needs. Since each customer’s appointment will have a dedicated sales associate, there will be a limited number of customers in the store at any one time to ensure appropriate social distancing takes place, says the company.
Best Buy Safety Protocols
To maintain the safety of employees and customers, Best Buy has created stringent protocols for this new service. Safety measures include:
- Mandatory protective gear for all employees, including gloves and masks, which will be provided by Best Buy.
- Mandatory self-health checks by employees before each shift using a new employee app developed by Best Buy.
- Social distancing guidelines, outlined by signage and enforced by employees, to ensure appropriate distance between employees and customers.
- Sanitization of areas and surfaces in the store before and after each appointment.
How In-Store Consultation Works
The process for an in-store consultation is meant to be easy to follow and safe for customers and employees, says the company. Here’s how it works.
- Create an appointment: Customers can schedule appointments by phone, online, through the Best Buy app or via live chat.
- Confirmation and pre-call: Customers will get confirmation of their visit, along with reminders via text and email. An employee will call the customer before their visit to go over the process, explain safety measures and get more information about their shopping needs.
- Entering the store: When it’s time for the appointment to start, the customer will be notified to go to the store entrance and check in. A host will go over the consultation and safety process and introduce the customer to their Blue Shirt or Agent. Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes for shopping carts will be available, and employees will wear face coverings and gloves.
- Shopping: The customer and Blue Shirt or Agent will shop together, following social distancing and safety guidelines. Signs and floor stickers will provide navigation and guidance on safety. For product demos, the employee will wipe the product, let the customer handle it and then wipe it down when the customer is done. Employees will clean surfaces as needed throughout the appointment.
- Completing the Sale: When a customer decides to buy an item, they will be taken to the front registers, where distancing guidelines will be followed and there will be sneeze guards. If using a credit card, the machine and screen will be wiped before and after each use.
- Leaving the store: When the purchase is finished, an employee will escort the customer out of the store.
Best Buy will still continue with its online purchasing and curbside pickup or home delivery program. The company also offers free virtual in-home consultations.