Best Buy

Akamai helps Best Buy improve performance of dynamic content and applications by 80% and shopping cart transactions by 20%

“Akamai helps us ensure a fast and consistent user experience at all times, even during peak traffic, which leads to higher customer satisfaction and more sales.”

Steve Trimbo , Director of Online Operations , Best Buy

The Situation

With beginnings in 1966, Best Buy is now North America’s leading specialty retailer of consumer electronics, personal computers, entertainment software, appliances and related services. An innovative and growing Fortune 100 company, Best Buy employs 140,000; operates more than 1,150 retail stores in the United States, Canada and China; and surpassed $35 billion in revenues for fiscal year 2006. Launched in 2000, BestBuy.com serves as an information resource, offers a wide range of products, and reaches more customers than any physical Best Buy store. In fact, the site offers 600,000 SKUs, 20 times what a store can carry, and – according to Internet Retailer – hosts 400 million visitors a year, equal to the total visitors at all stores. Revenue from online operations increased approximately 36% in fiscal 2007, and for the fourth year in a row, Best Buy’s online store was named to Internet Retailer’s Best of the Web Top 50 list of online retailers.

The Challenge

As a leading multi-channel retailer in a highly competitive market, Best Buy understands the importance of leveraging the Internet to drive traffic and purchases at its retail stores. With a customer-centric focus, Best Buy’s goal is to deliver a consistent customer experience across all of its channels, empowering consumers to research and purchase products seamlessly, either online or in its retail stores. The company is committed to continuously updating its website to deliver a top-notch web experience. As a long- time Akamai customer, Best Buy is constantly taking advantage of new Akamai cloud services to help it reach its goals. This partnership has proven critical to helping Best Buy serve the dynamic content and web applications that ensure an engaging and interactive shopping experience.

The Goal

In 2006, Best Buy needed to meet three key requirements to support its brand and objectives:

  • Deliver Superior Customer Web Experience: The company wanted to make sure that its customers enjoyed a superior online shopping experience, especially during the holiday season.
  • Protect Brand Image: Well aware that its website is an extension of its brand, Best Buy wanted a solution that ensured a reliable and always available website.
  • Reduce Operational Costs: As a retailer concerned with tight profit margins, Best Buy always seeks to avoid costs that would erode its top line.

Why Akamai

Satisfying Customer Expectations

Best Buy typically enjoys greater revenues around the holiday season, both in-store and online. And the company relies upon its site to drive consumers to its stores where it can typically increase the total order value by encouraging shoppers to also purchase accessories and value- added services, such as installation.

According to Steve Trimbo, Director of Online Operations for Best Buy, “In our highly competitive market, even a slight differentiation can make a big impact in customer loyalty and revenues. Akamai allows us to deliver our dynamic content and applications – such as our store locator and product recommendation center – 80% faster than we could on our own. As a leading brand, Best Buy is constantly being ranked in industry lists. One issue the company faced was that its shopping cart transaction time was consistently ranking lower in web performance than the rest of its site.

With Akamai, Best Buy has seen a 20% improvement in the speed of shopping cart transactions. “Akamai helps us ensure a fast and consistent user experience at all times, even during peak traffic, which leads to higher customer satisfaction and more sales,” continues Trimbo. In fact, BestBuy.com generated 30% higher revenues in the third quarter of fiscal year 2007 than in the third quarter of fiscal year 2006, and a 65% increase in the third quarter of fiscal year 2008 compared to fiscal year 2007.

Ensuring Uninterrupted Availability

As a savvy retailer, Best Buy knows that dynamic web applications such as store locators are more important now than ever. In fact, according to Best Buy 60% number of its customers visit the company’s website to research purchases before shopping in stores. While dynamically generated content offers an unprecedented opportunity to engage with consumers, rendering pages on-the- fly can lead to delays – and even failures – in delivering content.

“Akamai ensures that our dynamic content and applications are always available and performing well. That enables us to deliver the type of rich, interactive experience that promotes customer satisfaction and loyalty. This, combined with the fact that many of our key partners – such as Bazaar Voice – also use Akamai, ensures a consistent experience for consumers while meeting customer demands. It also guarantees that the Best Buy brand is consistently represented across all of our channels,” says Trimbo.

Avoiding Infrastructure Buildout

Unfortunately, traditional web infrastructure does not cope efficiently or cost effectively with the highly variable and unpredictable nature of consumer demand on the web. And when companies deliver dynamic content and web applications from their sites, it places tremendous stress on their web infrastructure. “When we first launched our site in 2000, we quickly realized it was costly and ineffective to expand our infrastructure to support traffic surges. That’s when we first became an Akamai customer. Now that we have evolved our website to take advantage of technologies such as dynamic applications, we are once again faced with delivery issues that our beyond our control. Fortunately, Akamai has developed solutions to keep pace with web and e-commerce trends, allowing us to avoid infrastructure buildout while ensuring that we can deliver the best site experience possible,” says Trimbo.

With Akamai in place, BestBuy.com is able to support 470% times the normal traffic load. In fact, the site has served as many as 119 million visitors per month, while at the same time, bandwidth requirements have been reduced by 52%. “By reducing the load on our servers, we avoid the costly, complex infrastructure buildout that would remain largely idle for the rest of the year,” concludes Trimbo.

About Best Buy Co., Inc

Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE: BBY) is an innovative Fortune 100 growth company that continually strives to create superior customer experiences. Through more than 930 retail stores across the United States and in Canada, our employees connect customers with technology and entertainment products and services that make life easier and more fun. We sell consumer electronics, home-office products, entertainment software, appliances and related services. A Minneapolis-based company, our operations include: Best Buy (BestBuy. com and BestBuy.ca), Future Shop (FutureShop.ca), Geek Squad (GeekSquad.com and GeekSquad.ca) and Magnolia Audio Video (Magnoliaav.com). We support our communities through employee volunteerism and grants from The Best Buy Children’s Foundation. For more information visit www.bestbuy.com.