With a dwindling market share and increasingly public PR fiascoes, electronics mega-chain Best Buy has seen better days. And after the publication of a lengthy Forbes article detailing the ways in which the retailer is its own worst enemy, some have begun the countdown clock until the boys in blue go bankrupt. We would normally expect Best Buy to treat the Forbes piece the same way they would a complaining customer — by looking the other way and going on a smoke break in the back parking lot. But the CEO of Best Buy must have realized that shareholders know how to use the internet, because he’s gone online to respond to the haters.
“As CEO, I know that criticism goes with the job,” writes CEO Brian Dunn, “and I’m well aware we have some challenges. I also know that errors we make often translate into a poor experience for our customers, and that is simply unacceptable.”
Dunn first goes through the criticisms he feels are deserved:
The cancellation of some internet orders just before Christmas was our fault, and it’s not representative of how we EVER want to treat our customers. I’ll spare you the technical explanation of how and why it happened, but we know we did not deliver a good experience and we’re truly sorry. We’ve worked to make amends with customers whose holidays were made less happy because of our mistake, and we’re working diligently to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
[W]e need to move even faster, particularly in creating a more seamless experience between our stores, web sites, call centers and services teams. We recognize people can and do shop from anywhere, and they expect thoughtful, helpful interactions from us every step of the way. We continue to invest in a number of areas — from employee training, to critical system enhancements — to ensure our customers always receive the kind of experience they deserve and expect from us, wherever and whenever they choose. But, simply put, that work needs to happen faster — and we’re taking significant steps to accelerate the pace.
Hey Brian… on the whole Christmas cancellation thing: Don’t spare us. We’d actually like to know how and why this debacle occurred. Going public with the source of your screw-ups might actually improve your image.
Moving on, BD then takes issue with the things where he thinks the critics are mistaken:
First, some believe the internet has made physical retailing (i.e., stores) irrelevant. There’s no doubt that the internet, and the mobile web in particular, have changed the way people shop, but there is strong evidence that consumers continue to value the experience of shopping in stores. A recent study by the NPD Group, a leading market research company, notes that nearly 80% of consumer electronics revenue still moves through physical stores. Additionally, approximately 40% of customer purchases made through Bestbuy.com are picked up in one of our stores. And the truth is, traffic in our physical stores increased in our third quarter and has been trending positively for most of the year.
Finally, there are those who question the validity of Best Buy’s business model. This misguided perspective is especially troubling for me, because it blatantly and recklessly ignores overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Best Buy is a financially strong and profitable company that has generated more than $2.6 billion in cash flows from operating activities in the first three quarters of the fiscal year. We also delivered positive operating income in each of the first three quarters of fiscal 2012. We grew total market share in the third quarter according to the most recent public data available. We have closed down certain operations that were not profitable, which we expect to have a positive impact on our earnings going forward. And we are focusing the company on areas where we see the greatest opportunities for growth and profit: mobile devices and connection plans; enhanced digital and e-commerce strategies; growth in our services business; and expansion of our established business in China.
So there you have it, straight from the Chief Geek.
My Thoughts on Best Buy’s Recent Media Coverage [Brian’s Whiteboard]
Thanks to Keith for the tip!