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Best Buy Enhances Holiday Shopping Services

Minneapolis — Best Buy has introduced a series of in-store and online initiatives to improve the holiday shopping experience for customers.

The enhancements were based in part on a company-sponsored survey that revealed which factors consumers consider very or somewhat important when holiday shopping. The chief considerations included the return policy (92 percent), the ability to speak to someone live when calling the store rather than hearing an automated message (91 percent), customer assistance to help throughout the store (89 percent), and a helpful, easy-to-use Web site (70 percent).

Recognizing those needs, Best Buy has implemented the following improvements:

New customer assistants: The retailer has reassigned approximately 30 percent of its sales floor labor to a new cross-trained customer assistant position. Based on test scenarios, Best Buy found this new position would allow for deeper personal interaction with customers during peak times, a critical component to creating the best holiday experience. The new customer assistants are trained to help customers across all categories in the store, while being supported by more specialized “BlueShirts” who have deeper knowledge in specific product categories.

Extended return policy: Best Buy overhauled its return policy for the season by extending the deadline on all returns to Jan. 31. The policy applies to all products, including such devices as computers, digital cameras and GPS units whose returns were previously limited to 14 days. The change was designed to “alleviate some of the stress, confusion and ultimately the frustration associated with post-holiday returns,” the company said.

Spanish Web, launched in November, is a Spanish-language version of, offering bilingual content on more than 12,000 products including service plans and gift cards. The site also allows customers to connect with a Spanish-speaking customer service representative who can assist with site navigation and purchase decisions.

Enhanced phone support: Live operators, who undergo a month of intensive training, are now availbe to consult on purchases, call up inventory, place items on hold and perform sales transactions.

New online research tools: Best Buy has added customer reviews to its Web site and expanded its home theater guided selection tool, located at

Shortened transaction times: The retailer says it has reduced average checkout time by 20 percent by reconfiguring the software in its cash registers and through increased training of sales staff.

Suggested accessories: To help customers give “complete gift solutions,” Best Buy created an in-store shopping tool that helps identify appropriate accessories for the main gift item, such as a memory card or for a case for a digital camera.

Personalized plastic: The company is offering a wide range of holiday gift cards including religious, customized (with a personal image or picture) and Spanish.

“We start holiday planning 11 months in advance so we can provide the very best experience possible,” said president/COO Brian Dunn. “Our holiday approach is focused on bringing our customers complete gift solutions by offering a wide range of products, knowledgeable sales associates, and premium service to customers whether it’s in store, online or through our phone channel.”