Best Buy will reopen 200 of its stores next month for customers who make an appointment to visit.
The Richfield-based retailer has already resumed making in-home installations and repairs, with its employees entering homes wearing face shields and face masks and taking other steps to reduce the chance of catching or spreading COVID-19.
It has been a little over five weeks since Best Buy suspended in-home services and closed its nearly 1,000 stores in the U.S. to foot traffic, operating only via online orders shipped to homes and through curbside pickup.
Best Buy decided to limit its operations for the safety of employees and customers even though it was deemed an "essential" retailer in most parts of the U.S. because it sells products that help people work and learn from home.
CEO Corie Barry called the quick pivot to curbside pickup a "remarkable success," allowing the retailer to hold onto 70% of its sales. But earlier this month, it furloughed 51,000 part-time and some full-time store workers because of declining activity. The retailer will not bring back any furloughed workers for the limited reopening of stores because about 60% of its workforce is still intact.
While curbside pickup has worked well, some of Best Buy's products can be complex purchases and company officials said they know some customers would prefer to look at different models in person and talk to an expert.
"If you need a new refrigerator or washing machine, it can be harder to pick it out online. You may want to look at the size and talk about installation," said Carly Charlson, a Best Buy spokeswoman. "Now that's what we're allowing customers to do, under new safety guidelines."
Customers will be able to schedule appointments by phone, online or through Best Buy's app. Employees will call them before their visit to go over safety measures and learn more about what they are interested in purchasing.
Best Buy workers will give themselves a health check before each shift using a new app developed by the company. They will be required to wear face masks and gloves, which will be provided by the company. Customers will not be required to wear masks unless they are in a location where government officials mandate it.
One employee will be assigned to the customer for the entire visit, accompanying the person around the store with disinfectant wipes handy to wipe down items before and after any product demos and credit card transactions. There will be sneeze guards up at the check lanes.
For in-home services, customers will be called in advance to make sure they are not ill with flu-like symptoms or in quarantine and to discuss safety precautions.
Employees will perform the online self-health check and one with a manager before heading out to appointments. They will mark out a perimeter around their work space with cones. Any surfaces touched will be cleaned and disinfected.
No signature will be required for credit card transactions.