Best Buy Adopts Home-Delivery Plan That Failed at Walmart As Sales Surge

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Best Buy Co.’s store employees are delivering online orders to customers’ homes. A move previously applied by rival Walmart, but the huge retail corporation failed to make it a success.

Best Buy said on Thursday that its employees, nicknamed “Blue Shirts,” are handling some e-commerce deliveries. Chief Executive Officer Corie Barry said on a call with reporters that the employees are trained, and arrive in company-branded vehicles. The move will help the consumer-electronics retailer to cope with the surge in digital orders, which are often fulfilled through its stores, and also give its employees the opportunity to develop new skills.

This has been tried before by Walmart, and not successfully. In its June 2017’s annual shareholder meeting, Walmart said it would request its employees to deliver packages on their way home from their shifts. This would be aimed at using its massive workforce and sprawling network of U.S. stores to match Amazon’s convenient options for web purchases.

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Walmart conducted this test in New Jersey and Arkansas, using employees’ own vehicles. But less than a year later, it quietly ended the service as some worried about having an accident in their own car while other workers didn’t feel like adding more tasks to an already taxing job.

However, Barry said that their approach will be different. Employees can choose to grab some deliveries during their shift, in lieu of their regular in-store tasks, and liability for accidents won’t be the employees’ concern as they’ll drive company-owned vehicles. Also, in general, thanks to its existing home-installation and tech-repair services provided by Best Buy, the customers are more used to having Best Buy staffers show up at their doorstep.

What’s unknown, thus far, is how much will the staff be paid for the deliveries. The company already pays a starting wage of at least $15 an hour in the U.S.

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