Best Buy Opens Smaller, 'Digital First' Store

Jacqueline Barba
Digital Editor
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Best Buy opened its first small-format, 'digital first' store in Monroe, North Carolina, on July 26, after piloting several new store models in nearby Charlotte in 2021.

The new store spans 5,000 square feet and features a curated selection of the retailer’s “best-in-category” products as well as expert services like Geek Squad and new ways to pick up products, according to a July 25 post to Best Buy’s corporate blog, which included renderings of the new store. It also offers what Best Buy calls a “digital-first shopping experience” that assists shoppers with product selection and advice digitally while in the store.

“This is one more way we’re continuing to invest in our stores to better serve our customers’ needs in an ever-growing digital world and create a more seamless shopping experience,” according to the blog. “We’ll continue learning from our store pilots in Charlotte as this new small-format store test gets underway.”

Last fall, Best Buy revealed it was testing new store models in Charlotte to test different ways to meet its customers’ changing needs. The new models comprised five stores that tested only a few minor changes to its standard locations and two stores offering new and expanded product categories. It also introduced its first outlet store and a new experiential store. Additionally, each one of the pilot stores test different types of fulfillment and services, ranging from more warehouse space for online orders to expanded tech repair and support. All the locations added pick-up lockers.

The Digital Experience
Best Buy offers a digital-first shopping experience at this store by providing shoppers with expanded digital assistance options in-store, including product advice and checkout.

Upon entering the store, shoppers are greeted by a seven-foot-tall digital display that explains what’s new and how they can shop inside the store, including:

  • Scan to buy. Most products inside the Monroe store are spotlighted on interactive displays for shoppers to touch and try out, but not stocked on shelves. When ready to make a purchase, shoppers can scan the QR code on any product price tag, which sends the order to the pickup counter. This notifies Best Buy’s Blue Shirts to pick up the selected product from the backroom and bring it up to the register for shoppers to complete their purchase.
  • Mobile self-checkout. The store also offers an assortment of grab-and-go items, such as charging cables, cell phone cases and gift cards. Using the Best Buy app, shoppers can scan the barcode and use the mobile self-checkout option to complete their purchase.
  • Expert advice. Shoppers who need advice will also have the option to shop live with an expert from Best Buy’s virtual store via call, chat or video chat while in the store.

For shoppers who prefer not to use the digital options, Blue Shirts are still available to help like they would be at any other Best Buy store.

The Smaller Format
While the shopping space inside the Monroe store is smaller than Best Buy’s traditional stores, it still includes many of the same offerings and experience, including:

  • A curated selection of popular Best Buy products and categories, including home theater and audio, computing, headphones, wearables, fitness, cell phones, cameras, smart home and small appliances.
  • Geek Squad and dedicated consultation service areas.
  • In-store pickup as well as new pick-up lockers on the outside of the store, for around-the-clock pick-up options.

The Monroe store will carry large TVs, but it won’t carry major appliances and other larger products. However, items not carried in the Monroe store can still be purchased on and picked up on-site or can be shopped for at any of the larger format stores in the Charlotte area.