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Best Buy Adds Customer Centric Stores

8/31/2005 12:57:00 PM Eastern

Minneapolis — Best Buy has added elements of its customer centricity program to another 57 stores this week and opened five new stores last Friday that also employ the operating model.

The latest additions bring the total number of converted and new customer centric Best Buy stores to 198 in a national rollout that will reach upwards of 285 stores by February. The customer centricity initiative tailors the in-store experience “to meet the unique needs and expectations” of select consumer groups in specific markets, the company said. The latest round of conversions and store openings follows changeovers at 35 stores last June and the opening of 16 new customer centric stores since May.

The conversions include new, expanded interactive gaming areas called Test Drive, personal shopping assistants for one-on-one service and guidance, and Magnolia Home Theater and Best Buy for Business in-store shops.

Test Drive allows customers to sample new gaming hardware and software on interactive displays featuring online gaming, surround sound, wireless technology and HD screens, while dedicated sales staffers provide advice and tips. Test Drive debuted this week in stores in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas and Denver.

The personal shopping assistants, developed for “busy moms,” accompany customers through the store while assessing their needs, explaining products and aiding in purchase decisions. Stores with shopping assistants — including new conversions in Atlanta, Baltimore; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Hartford, Conn.; New York; and West Palm Beach, Fla. — also feature a broader selection of appliance, digital imaging, gaming, home theater and mobile video products and services.

The in-store Magnolia and Business shops, aimed at home theater enthusiasts and small-business customers, feature distinctive service areas, broader product assortments and other specialized support. They were added this week to stores in Atlanta; Chicago; Dallas; Hartford, Conn.; Miami; Philadelphia; Providence, R.I.; and Tucson, Ariz. The Magnolia centers carry such controlled distribution lines as Pioneer Elite, Fujitsu, MartinLogan and Stewart Filmscreen, and are staffed by home theater consultants, in-home system designers and custom installers.

“We’re constantly refining customer experiences to make shopping at Best Buy more fun and easy,” said Mike Linton, executive VP/chief marketing officer.

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