Best Buy brings in new online president

  • Article by: JOHN EWOLDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 3, 2012 - 9:04 PM

Scott Durchslag, previously president of Expedia Worldwide, faces important challenges.

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Scott Durchslag said the consumer needs to see value beyond price.

Best Buy Co. Inc. has hired Scott Durchslag, former president of Expedia Worldwide, to bolster its e-commerce division.

Durchslag, 46, reports to Stephen Gillett, another newcomer who was hired in March to lead the Richfield-based retailer's digital efforts. Both will confront a key challenge: to shrink the number of customers lost to showrooming, who browse Best Buy's stores and then pay less at online retailers such as Amazon.

Durchslag was named Wednesday to become president of the online and global e-commerce division and will start Nov. 1.

"My mission is to reinvent electronics retail for Web 3.0," he said. "We want to create a model for bricks and clicks and at the same time delight our customers."

CEO Hubert Joly described the tech veteran as a world-class talent. "Scott's arrival at Best Buy signals our determination and commitment to create a world-class customer experience, both online and in our stores."

Durchslag's arrival comes at a challenging time for the company, which has seen nearly a dozen changes in leadership staff, including a new CEO.

Gillett, president of Best Buy Digital and global business services, said Best Buy may reduce online prices to remain competitive during the holiday season. But he said that's just one part of the aggressive online competition.

"No one has defined the elusive dream of merging physical and digital stores," he said. "I love the odds."

Best Buy's advantage, Durchslag said, is its market domination. A third of consumers shopping for electronics go to BestBuy.com or its stores, while 20 percent think of Wal-Mart or Amazon. That kind of domination by a retailer is unparalleled, he said.

One retail analyst thinks the new digital hires represent a concerted effort toward grabbing more online revenue, which currently represents about 6 percent of the company's sales.

"It's good to see that they're hiring digital experts who can move the multichannel digital commerce forward," said Gregory Melich, a retail analyst at International Strategy & Investment in New York. "But they also need to differentiate on service in the store and online."

Durchslag said Best Buy needs to make the consumer see value beyond price, including avoiding unnecessary clicks online, being able to get a new system installed within a few days and providing interesting reward program enticements.

"At the end of the day, it's all about the consumer's experience, and we have to make it as easy as possible," he said.

Durchslag has more than 25 years in the industry and has worked with technology companies in the United States, China and South Asia. He launched the Razr product team at Motorola and created partnerships with Google and Microsoft. He graduated from the University of Chicago and received his MBA from Harvard Business School.

John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633

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