By Stephen Pate – Best Buy’s online ordering system is so bad that it overloads during sales, can’t tell you accurately what’s in stock and may cancel your order without good reason. My recent order of a new washer and dryer was cancelled due to a computer glitch and Home Depot got the business.
That’s got to be a disaster for Best Buy’s business profits and shareholders. Guidance on Best Buy is mixed with Forbes, for example, being negative in their headline but cautiously bullish in the story. Best Buy: A Glum Outlook Follows Tepid Christmas Sales.
Best Buy’s problems are not our problems as consumers. We demand millions of products and we want them now. One of Best Buy’s strategies is to lead with price marketing by discounting more products more often with weekly promotions. Consumers are conditioned to expect the best price at Best Buy.
Best Buy is still mainly a big box retailer with only 10% of sales coming online (Statista 2015 statistics)
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Best Buy and online sales fails
I see the problem as squarely the computer system or systems. Best Buy has two computer systems and they don’t communicate well. Best Buy runs enterprise software from SAP. A recent survey found that 60% of SAP’s customers are not going to use SAP in the future. (from SAP’s list of reference customers.)
SAP’s inability to quickly serve web commerce has been documented. That leaves Best Buy at serious disadvantage with Amazon.com which has a high speed, cloud based system. Again, not our problem when a company doesn’t get customer service right.
This is not new. Best Buy can be great for online orders but also hit and miss. On Boxing Day 2013, I spent over 4 hours online with Best Buy trying to order a Fender Telecaster guitar at a bargain price of $799. After the order finally got accepted, Best Buy lost the guitar. It took almost a month to arrive and until it did Best Buy had no idea where it was. The Incredible Shrinking World of Canada Post
The $100 gift certificate for the mix-up is long forgotten but I remember the Best Buy guitar snafu. For a long time, I wouldn’t order anything from Best Buy on the web which meant I shopped at Amazon.com.
Last Thursday during the 1-day VIP Sale at Best Buy, we tried to buy a new washer and dryer. The order screen showed 16 were in stock. The online system took over an hour to process the order. At times the screen would just hang. Other times it would not refresh.
Amazon.com is the world leader in online sales with 20 times Best Buy’s online sales (Statista). You can order anything you want, including major appliances. It takes 30 to 50 seconds to order and pay for anything in stock. You can always tell if they have it or not. Why Amazon is the biggest online retailer.
Despite a visit to the Best Buy store on Saturday and 3 calls to Customer Service, the order had not been allocated or picked by Monday. Best Buy Customer Service was on one computer system and the warehouse on another. They don’t talk to each other.
Mid-day Monday, Best Buy’s computer rejected the washer as out of stock. The computer would not accept a back order. The order was cancelled leaving us with a dryer but no washer. That’s so dumb.
Home Depot gets it right
Home Depot is a direct competitor to Best Buy in the appliance business. They also use SAP enterprise software and have $4,7 billion in online sales. The thing that’s different is Home Depot’s system handles online sales properly.
After the Best Buy email about our cancelled order, I logged onto Home Depot’s website and entered the same part #’s, put the washer and dryer in the cart and paid with a credit card. The whole process took about 2 minutes’ time. The same order took 4 days to process at Best Buy. It’s night and day.
Home Depot won this round. They got a major appliance sale and Best Buy got $39.
The people at Best Buy were very apologetic. I felt sorry for them. They gave me a $100 gift certificate for my troubles. It’s exactly what they did when the Telecaster got mixed up. I bought a Microsoft Surface Dial $39 with the “we’re sorry” coupon.