Best Buy (BBY) wants to get people in and out of its stores with a pricey new Apple (AAPL) or Samsung smartphone as fast as possible.
“[We are] revamping the mobile departments in our stores and enhancing the online presence at BestBuy.com to create a better, easier, more seamless shopping experience for customers,” Best Buy’s John Vomhof Jr. wrote in a blog post Saturday. The project, called “Mobile 2020” internally, has been in the works since last year and “will roll out to hundreds of stores over the next few months.”
The planned in-store initiatives include adding “specially trained employees” to help customers pick among phone products, “updated vendor and carrier experiences” and special attention paid to the fast-growing prepaid and unlocked phone categories. Also demystifying the smartphone-shopping experience will be “new menu boards, similar to those found at fast-food restaurants”, which are designed to show the latest promotions.
E-commerce offerings will also be simplified on BestBuy.com; for some products, like the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus last month, these upgrades are already in place. CEO Hubert Joly said on Best Buy’s earnings call on Thursday that the company “saw our highest-ever Android pre-orders” after they “simplified the buying experience and provided clarity of carrier offers and ease of phone selection.”
Shares of BestBuy surged Thursday after the company reported earnings of 60 cents a share, 50% above analysts’ estimates of 40 cents per share, with net sales of $8.53 billion also handily beating the $8.28 billion analyst forecast. Online was a predictable bright spot, with sales up 22.5%, compared to same-store U.S. sales growth of 1.4%.
“Potential performance pressure points were evident during the quarter, including delays in income tax refunds and hhgregg’s bankruptcy and still-ongoing liquidation; however, Best Buy successfully avoided the trap of chasing low quality/margin sales,” said Moody’s retail analyst Charlie O’Shea in a research note.
Joly said on the call that the hhgregg liquidation could put $2 billion in home goods and appliances sales up for grabs.
Best Buy, like retail peers Target (TGT) and GameStop (GME) , also benefited from the release of the hot Nintendo (NTDOY) Switch.