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Best Buy taps mobile to activate national Buy Back campaign

April 20, 2011

The Best Buy Buy Back application for iPhone includes a Telephone Time Machine feature

Retail giant Best Buy is placing an iPhone application at the center of its national Buy Back campaign that is intended to convince consumers to upgrade to latest and greatest consumer electronics products.

Best Buy’s Buy Back application for iPhone is intended to give consumers tools to keep up with technology advances by telling them how much money they could get back from their old tech with the Buybaculator, along with a mobile phone Upgrade Checker. The app also lets users re-skin their iPhone’s keypad with themes from different eras.

“I think launching a branded app of this kind a good idea, as it makes things extremely portable,” said Mark Beccue, Tampa, FL-based senior analyst at ABI Research. “Best Buy was clever in that they made it useful to people—‘Oh I want my phone to look different, I can use the Buy Back app.’

“There are multiple use cases for the app, although it is thinly veiled that it is for marketing purposes, which is OK,” he said. “Brands have to do that sort of thing—they have to do something that is useful to consumers or engaging on a broader basis.

“The only thing I’d say they’re missing is that it’s too bad they can’t seal the deal over the phone, although it might be part of their strategy of wanting you in the store to make the exchange, because the buy-back process could get a bit complicated.”

Best Buy tapped agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky to create the mobile application.

Best Buy Buy Back app
The Best Buy Back program offers to let consumers sell their mobile phone, laptop, netbook, tablet, portable gaming system such as Sony PSP, Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS and/or TV anytime within two years of the purchase date—four years for TVs—giving consumers a Best Buy gift card with a scheduled value to use toward another purchase.

Best Buy claims that it will buy back a product regardless of supply and demand, and that consumers will know exactly how much their product is worth up front, without guessing or haggling about the price.

The program offers in-store redemption and an instant Best Buy gift card in exchange for a product.

If consumers redeem their purchase in good condition, they can get up to 50 percent of the purchase price in the form of a Best Buy gift card.

 The Best Buy Buy Back application for iPhone includes a Telephone Time Machine feature.

With a flick or shake, users can re-skin their mobile phone’s keypad to fit the look and sound of devices from that time—everything from a vintage rotary phone to a flip to a future phone that requires a fingerprint.

The Buy Back app for iPhone

The Buybaculator feature lets app users pick a product within a category such as mobile phone, laptop, tablet and TV and type in its price to learn the Buy Back gift card amount they can receive in exchange for the product based on how long ago it was purchased.

The Buybaculator

The upgrade checker feature of the app tells consumers if they are eligible to upgrade their mobile phone. Users must provide their mobile number, ZIP code and wireless carrier, and Best Buy will let them know when they are ready for an upgrade.

“I like the idea of tying in an app with a specific purpose that pushes retail objectives but also being tied to something more general that is engaging,” Mr. Beccue said. “This is a trend among retailers—trying to put multiple functions with broad appeal into branded apps, for example, that telephone time machine element.

“Every time you turn on the phone Best Buy is in the back of your mind,” he said.

Final Take
Best Buy Buy Back

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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