New York - Best Buy is launching new applications for the Web and mobile phones â the latter developed by Google â to help drive sales and traffic this holiday season and beyond.
The online apps will appear on Best Buy's recently relaunched
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Facebook page, which now features Best Buy's full catalog of products and services, and is followed by some 1 million visitors, or "fans."
New features will include a "Hint Hacker" that allows visitors to select a desired holiday gift and send an email alert to a potential gift-giver. The recipient can then opt in to receive product-related advertising, prompted by cookies, whenever surfing online.
Other applications include a Facebook Secret Santa; a "Holiday Morning Simulator" cartoon Christmas card featuring photos selected by the sender; and a 25-song catalog of holiday tunes, sung by a chorus of Best Buy Blue Shirts, that have been altered to address gift-purchasing questions and can be attached to emails.
Best Buy chief marketing officer Barry Judge, speaking at a media briefing here yesterday, said the new applications are the fruits of the company's recently launched Best Buy Remix API (application programming interface) initiative, which allows outside developers to tap into the retailer's massive catalog of data, pricing and images.
He said the revamped Facebook site has the potential to attract up to 3 million to 4 million followers.
Best Buy has also partnered with Google to develop traffic-driving applications for mobile handsets. The first, slated to be released next month, will provide customers with directions to the nearest Best Buy in response to a product query, and will even guide them to the correct location within the store.
Shawn Score, president of Best Buy Mobile â the wireless initiative launched three years ago with Carphone Warehouse â said the retailer is also launching a dedicated Best Buy Mobile Web site in October. The site will initially provide product information and reviews, but will add sales and activation functionality after the holiday season.
The new initiatives come in addition to traditional marketing efforts. Despite a smaller holiday advertising budget, Judge said the company will air six or seven TV commercials this coming season that position the chain as "a place for great gift ideas." The spots, which will feature Best Buy's "Twelpforce" â the 2,500 staffers who answer technology questions via Twitter â will also highlight gaming, home theater and computer bundles, and iRex and Sony e-readers.
The spots will be supplemented by vendor commercials, newspaper inserts and email marketing, Judge said.