News Feature | March 27, 2015

Best Buy Opens Seattle Technology Center for Mobile Growth and Improving Customer Experience

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies
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By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer

BestBuy Technology Center

Electronics retailer Best Buy had a robust holiday shopping season in 2014, as one of the most visited sites online and $10.9 billion in sales, with a $1.49 billon conducted online in the 9-week period. The retailer has recently invested in new technology to improve the customer experience, with the addition of kiosks, micro-sites, and by embracing an omni-channel approach to improve the customer shopping experience. Their newest move will not only improve the customer experience, but also add a potential hundred employees to the Seattle landscape. A Geekwire report earlier this month announced the arrival of a new Best Buy technology development center in Seattle, and it will help the customer experience as the retailer devises new ways to embrace technology for streamlining sales.

The 32,000 square foot technology development center will be located in The Seattle Times building, not far from other major retailers like Nordstrom and Amazon. The building will be a center for Best Buy “engineers, product managers, web architects and developers” to work on a number of technologies. Among these will cloud engineering, mobile development, and the omni-channel customer experience. “All roads in shopping go through digital in my point of view,” says Mary Kelley, Best Buy's President of E-Commerce.  “Our opportunity is to take the intersection of the physical and the digital and create a truly innovative experience for customers.”

Mobile development is one of Best Buy's main focuses Geekwire points out, as the retailer has been consistently investing in mobile traffic, because the potential for growth in mobile traffic means mobile traffic grows faster than on a computer. In their 2016 plan, Best Buy states they want to increase their expenditure, and bolster the sales made on mobile devices. As Star Tribune reports, Best Buy actually had to take down its website during Black Friday, one of the biggest retail days of the year, due to too much mobile traffic nearly crashing Best Buy's website. In response, the retailer had to take down the site briefly to address its performance.

Taking the initiative to develop a more durable mobile shopping experience will help shoppers get the items they want from Best Buy in an efficient way. The website was unavailable for more than an hour, as was the retailer's iOS app. Best Buy has clearly learned to address mobile access and the customer experience and is taking measures to ensure this doesn't occur again for the upcoming shopping year.

Best Buy is currently advertising for nearly 50 employees and is poised to house as many as 100. The technology center is slated to open later this spring. The retailer chose Seattle as the home of its new center because of the growing pool of tech talent in the Emerald City, and all of the positions will be new and not relocated employment opportunities. Best Buy currently has near 150 e-commerce employees in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“We intend for our colleagues in this office to drive breakthrough innovation at incredible scale, for the world’s largest consumer electronics retailer,” says Kelley.