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Best Buy reveals mobile strategy

February 11, 2010

best-buyBest Buy is doing all it can to better connect with and be relevant to customers via the mobile channel, as the company reveals in this exclusive interview with Mobile Commerce Daily.

Mobile Commerce Daily’s Giselle Tsirulnik interviewed Amy Halford, senior digital brand manager of interactive marketing and emerging media at Best Buy, Richfield, MN. Here is what she had to say.

What has Best Buy done in the mobile marketing space? (mobile site, SMS, banner ads, apps)?
All of these. We recognize that with the explosion of smartphones, 3G service, and the adoption of unlimited data service plans, we have the opportunity to better connect and be relevant to customers whenever, wherever they might seek us. 

We also recognize mobile is relatively new space and that we need to explore and learn in order to grow effectively. With that in mind, during our holiday effort we integrated mobile into the broader plan by launching our iPhone app and mobile Web sites that support customers’ needs to research, find, and buy the products they were looking for during the busy season. 

Best Buy's app

Best Buy's app

We created an online gift guide and used mobile advertising, app sponsorship, and SMS to support. 

What are some best practices for retailers entering the mobile commerce space?
Keep customers needs and their mobile behavior at the forefront of any strategy.  It’s very easy to be distracted by shiny objects, but if you stay grounded on delivering against the customer’s need, regardless of the technology employed, there’s a greater likelihood for success. 

Customers have told us that the capability to thoroughly research products and connect with Best Buy sales associates is as important if not more important than being able to simply purchase over the phone.  We also recognize that our customers are across the board in the types of devices that they own. 

Knowing all this, we created a mobile app experience, a mobile web experience, and SMS tools to help customers get product info, ratings and reviews, connect to our Twelpforce, and ultimately buy if they chose over the phone. 
bestbuy1Use mobile as an integrated part of a larger strategy, not as a one off channel.  Particularly if you are a multichannel retailer, customers have an expectation of a consistent experience regardless of which entry point they access, be it online, the phone, or the store. 

That’s why for the most part, our mobile communication strategy was an extension of our overall holiday strategy and there were consistent elements across.

How big of a role does mobile play ion Best Buy’s overall marketing strategy?
It’s getting bigger as more and more customers adopt the device. Again, the proliferation of smartphones is changing the way people use this technology and it’s becoming an increasingly more personal device that is a critical tool to help people move through their day, stay connected to friends and family, and at time to entertain and unwind. 

Our chief marketing officer is a self proclaimed “noisy advocate” for the mobile platform. We see mobile as not only a commerce opportunity but an opportunity to learn more about our customers and serve them better across the enterprise.  Our approach is to test frequently, learn quickly, and scale appropriately. 

That’s what you saw last summer with our beta mobile site, which launched officially with commerce capability in October, and continues to evolve with improved feature sets and experiential elements nearly every month. 

bestbuyWhat is the strategy behind using mobile? Are you trying to target a new demographic or simply adding more convenience to existing customers?
First and foremost, we see mobile as an opportunity to bridge the online environment and in store, and that’s largely targeted at enhancing and improving the experience for our existing customers. 

However, we can’t deny there is an opportunity to reach specific customer segments that our other, more mass channels tend to miss. 

For instance, we had a Spanish version of our Deal of the Day SMS stream targeted at our Hispanic customers.  It was still integrated into a broader strategy to reach this target. 

We also recognize the 1:1 opportunity of the mobile channel and as we develop that capability, mobile is a key means for allowing customers to get more customized messaging and offers should they choose to do so. 

Do you have a mobile SMS club? What types of deals and promos do you send consumers on this list? We have built several SMS subscription databases including our Best Buy Deal of the Week, which we promote and send each week in both English and Spanish. 

To support our stores at a local level, we’re executing a district-level SMS pilot enabling those stores to send news, alerts, events & offers specific to their store – to the customers that shop in their store. 

We also have a Movie Club where we send exclusive movie offers on a regular basis to those who choose to opt-in.  Complementing our Reward Zone Gamer Mobile App, we have also built an Reward Zone Gamer SMS subscription database that we send various gaming alerts, event notifications and gaming offers. 

Our Musical Instruments team has an SMS subscription database where we announce product launches and send valuable offers from the Musical Instruments Store. 

Part of the value we offer customers through Best Buy Mobile is the opportunity to get news about launches, offers, and a notification when your phone is eligible for a free upgrade.

From a brand perspective, what are the challenges or impediments of getting onto the mobile space?
Multichannel integration and measurement are the two biggest challenges.  Mapping out our organization’s entire digital ecosystem and taking advantage of all the touch points in a relevant way is very challenging both in its size and complexity. 

Additionally, integrating measurement systems and identifying KPIs (key performance indicators) that relate back to the bigger strategy is challenging as well. 

We can define what success looks like in the channel itself but capturing metrics that tie it all back to the impact on the greater enterprise is more difficult.  That’s why strategically it’s so critical to keep focused on meeting customer needs from a multichannel perspective, while not focusing solely on growing the mobile channel alone.

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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