In brief: On Tuesday, Best Buy opened its first ever small-format, digital-first retail experience. The 5,000 sq. ft. store in Monroe, North Carolina, is significantly smaller than your run-of-the-mill Best Buy. It features a curated selection of best-in-category products ranging from headphones, smartphones and wearables to audio, computing and smart home gadgets.
Geek Squad members are also on site to lend a helping hand, and familiar services like in-store pickup and around-the-clock pickup lockers outside the store persist.
Most products in the store will be on display for shoppers to see, touch and try out. When it comes times to buy, customers can use their phone to scan a QR code on a product's price tag and send the order to the pickup counter. A Best Buy employee will then retrieve the item from the backroom and bring it to the register to complete the purchase.
The store won't carry major appliances and other large products (except big-screen televisions) due to space constraints. Such items can still be ordered online and shipped locally or shopped at one of Best Buy's larger-format stores in the Charlotte area.
Best Buy said customers can also get advice via call, chat or video chat while in store. Those who don't want to fool with these digital options can simply talk to an in-store employee instead.
The experiment is Best Buy's latest attempt to keep pace with the rapidly evolving retail landscape. The Internet and e-commerce giants like Amazon decimated the retail shopping experience over the past couple of decades, and many are still scrambling to find a model that works in this day and age.