Best Buy shifts digital strategy

Posted by Mike Luttrell

Coming soon: smaller Best Buy stores, more IT guys at the retailer's headquarters, and a stronger focus on digital transactions.

Best Buy, based in Richfield, Minnesota, is hiring. Big time. The company is taking a refreshingly different approach from other companies and looking to expand its IT workforce in-house.

That's right - instead of outsourcing the technical operations that power the retailer's global presence, Best Buy wants to bring everything closer to home to create a tighter, stronger network with customers.

Best Buy CIO Jody Davis told the Minnesota newspaper Star Tribune, "We've largely outsourced IT. We now want [to hire] talent as Best Buy employees. We need to develop a strategy of what we're going to build. We like to take control of our destiny."

In fact, the company is looking to hire no less than 200 information technology employees over the next year.

"It's an interesting time at Best Buy right now. We're finding more ways to communicate with customers. We want them to interact with us no matter where they are and no matter what device they use," Davis said.

When customers think of Best Buy, they probably picture a gigantic retail space littered with products from one corner to the other. But the company has shifted its focus so that it's more geared toward e-commerce and mobile content.

Instead of going to the store and browsing through the hundreds of CDs and movies, in the future customers may just walk up to a kiosk and order the item they want right there.

Innovations like that, though, require Best Buy to be on the leading edge and that's something that can't be done if its IT team is somewhere in India.

Between 2006 and 2011, Best Buy says its number of customers has grown from 800 million to 1.4 billion, but nearly all of those 600 million new customers represent online sales. In-store traffic has not decreased but it's obvious that to stay ahead of the game, Best Buy needs to appeal to that ever-growing digital audience.