Best Buy Outlines Web Site Plans, Ad Push

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Best Buy came to CES with a roster of news, including the announcement of the launch of its wholly-owned subsidiary BestBuy.com which will begin selling on the web this quarter and its new branding and marketing program called Turn On the Fun.

While Best Buy has had an informational web site, the new BestBuy.com web site which is scheduled to launch in the first quarter marks the retail giant's first foray into web selling. Brad Anderson, president/COO of Best Buy said the company decided to wait until after the Christmas selling season to launch the new site because "with average store sales if $6.5 million per store, we didn't want to launch a new venture. We decided to launch it during the soft selling season."

John Walden, president of BestBuy.com pointed out that the new web site will seek to differentiate itself with a product oriented web service with extensive information, shopping tools and commerce capabilities. "Our vision is to pioneer the clicks-and-mortar revolution," he said. "Clicks and mortar is not just a retailer putting up a web site. It is a synchronization of brand awareness, product knowledge, vendor partnerships, multiple fulfillment capabilities and logistics."

As for fullfillment, the new BestBuy.com plans to provide a variety of options including store pick-up and direct shipment. In addition, Walden said, the site will offer extensive customer service and one-on-one marketing which involves gathering data on shoppers and offering appropriate information.

The new web site will also offer various navigation options, he added, as well a information and product reviews on products that customers are considering. In addition, it will greet customers with a personalized greeting.

Best Buy also announced strategic alliances with Microsoft to sell digital services and to co-promote technologies, and with etown.com to selectively integrate information from the web site.

BestBuy.com will carry all of the products that are available in the stores, Anderson said, adding that Best Buy is not seeking to be "channel centric. The plan is to increase overall Best Buy business," he said. "We will not be focusing on whether or not the sales come from the web or from the stores."

At the same time, Best Buy also announced its new branding and market positioning program. "We are moving from being a big box retailer to becoming a provider of entertainment and technology solutions," said Mike Linton, senior VP of strategic marketing for Best Buy.

The new campaign will focus on time enhancement and great times, said Linton, and will be supported by a $100 million campaign called "Turn on the Fun." The ad campaign launches January 9.

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