February 16, 2010, 12:00 AM

Web design is critical to engaging multichannel customers, Best Buy says

As consumers shop across phones, web sites, social networks and stores, retailers must design sites that support how their customers shop, John Thompson, head of BestBuy.com, said Tuesday at the Internet Retailer Web Design & Usability 2010 Conference.

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As consumers exert more control over how they shop across multiple channels including mobile devices, web sites, social networks and physical stores, retailers must deploy web site designs that effectively engage shoppers however they choose to shop, John Thompson, senior vice president and general manager of BestBuy.com, said in the keynote address today at the Internet Retailer Web Design & Usability 2010 Conference in Orlando, FL.

“Web design plays a critical role in the customer engagement process,” Thompson said. Each time a consumer visits a retail web site, he added, it’s important to engage her and make her shopping experience easy and intuitive for her to complete what she came to the site to do.

To improve its own approach to web design, Thompson said, Best Buy Co. Inc. has been implementing a 3-part strategy:

Developing each of its selling channels to be more accessible to consumers.
To make its web site more accessible through natural search, Best Buy has taken steps such as tweaking its URLs to make them more easily readable by both people and search engine crawlers and adding content to better describe the products offered on each web page. Such steps enabled Best Buy to improve its Google natural search rankings for the term “TVs” to No. 2 from No. 162.

It also produced an overall increase of 61% in first-page rankings and an increase of 168% in second-place rankings, Thompson said.

With its m-commerce strategy, focusing on the design of its m.BestBuy.com mobile site, Best Buy has nearly tripled its traffic from mobile devices to about 17 million visitors from 6.5 million a year ago, Thompson said.

With an online social community strategy supported by Best Buy’s IdeaX online community, which customers can access through Twitter and Facebook, Best Buy has stepped up customer service and used customer feedback to improve some of its products, such as laptops with long-lasting batteries.

Making it easier to find and shop in its physical stores.
By making a store finder available through its mobile site as well as BestBuy.com, Best Buy has made it easier to shop across channels. Store shoppers can use their personal mobile devices to check for in-store as well as online availability of specific products. Customers’ mobile devices now account for 46% of orders requested for in-store pickup.

Increasing personalization.
To better personalize the shopping experience for anonymous shoppers, Best Buy has designed its web site so that when these shoppers return, they’re presented with content related to what they viewed on their prior visit.

Thompson said Best Buy will continue to work at making sure its brand is noticed across all channels, whether consumers are engaging it in social networks, on its web site or in its stores. “You gotta take the brand where your customers are,” he said.

Best Buy is No. 10 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide (a PDF version of the company’s financial and operating profile can be ordered by clicking on its name).

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