Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My Order Shipped In 2 Hours and 21 Minutes...And Not From Amazon

My amazing girlfriend and I have been planning a trip to Thailand and it's rapidly approaching. Since we're going to be spending a good amount of time near the water, she mentioned investigating an underwater camera. The first time she mentioned it was the afternoon of 3/12, a Wednesday. On 3/13, a Thursday, she had clearly done some more research and was circling making the purchase (I'd recalled seeing similar behavior with a pair of really cute winter boots). So, during the late morning of 3/14, a Friday, on the way to the gym, I decided to surprise her with an underwater camera. But, my cleverly-orchestrated, surprise gift would only work if I could get her the camera before she bought it herself.

**It's important to note, she lives in Minneapolis and I was in California at the time (KW - clarification)**

On the way out of the locker room, I opened up the Best Buy Android app, found the Go Pro Hero 3 Silver Edition & and SanDisk 16 GB memory card and I bought it. Then, it started getting weird.

At 11:20 AM, on Friday, I got the following email:

That's nice, and while it's generally accepted that a website sends an email on confirmation immediately following an order, I was surprised that got one from Best Buy (and I work for BBY).  Now, I usually buy research online and buy in-store, so this might not be news to regular bestbuy.com online shoppers. But, it gets even weirder.

At 1:41 PM, on Friday, I got the following email:

As a customer, I'm was shocked, in the best kinda way. I did the math to discover that they processed my order and got it shipped in under three hours. From the perspective of a customer, that is a pretty amazing experience (I was delighted). But, as an employee, i got to see how an organization's hard work pays off, 1st hand.

Now that I was focused on following the bread crumbs, my investigation didn't stop there. I clicked on the tracking link, which is blacked out above, and starting following this package, slowly at first, but more fanatically on the day of delivery. The tracking table, in its entirety, is here:

After clicking on the "What's This?" link, I learned a few things:

  1. Order Processed: Ready for UPS: UPS has received the electronic transmission of the shipment details and billing information for this shipment from the sender. Once the shipment is moving within the UPS network, the tracking status will be updated.  - A 3rd party was able to verify receipt of the completion event that BBY shipped this item REALLY FAST, though the verification was done at 3:04 - 3 hours and 44 minutes after order.
  2. Origin Scan: This scan is the initial electronic record indicating UPS has possession of the shipment.  -  UPS was in possession of my package less than 9 hours after I ordered it.
  3. Delivered: The shipment has reached its destination, and the date and time of delivery have been recorded. In the U.S. and Canada, residential deliveries that do not require a signature may be left in a safe place, out of sight and out of weather. This could include the front porch, side door, back porch, or garage area. If you have instructed the driver to leave the shipment with a neighbor or leasing office, the driver will leave a UPS InfoNotice® at the delivery address.  - The next business day, after getting home from work and relaxing a bit, my incredible girlfriend had her gift in hand - SURPRISE!!!.

The day of, I was so excited that this was coming together so quickly, that I was obsessively refreshing the tracking page, starting at around 5:30, to see when the package would arrive; not to mention all the excuses I made to excuse myself and check on something (which was really checking for package delivery). And when it arrived, and I got to see her open the box, and it was pretty awesome.

Now "how we do it" is very interesting, but not nearly as important as "that we do it". For more details on our "Ship From Store" program, you can read an article here. The short of it is, we've turned all 1400+ stores into mini-distribution centers that can fulfill online orders and do it quickly. And we're just getting started...I can't wait to see how efficient the supply chain will get over time.

And because my order was for more than $25 dollars, it shipped for free. 

Now I'm a BBY employee, and the views above are my own. However, as a consumer, I was delighted and thought the experience was very cool and worth sharing.


  1. Thanks for sharing this awesome story. It made a lot of us on the Best Buy team smile today. Shari Ballard

  2. Amazon has the same products for the same price (even with 1 day prime shipping.) You could have got it on Saturday. So all things equal...and you wouldn't pay tax.

  3. I didn't check the pricing, but I'll take your word for it and I without taking into consideration E-Fairness or the premium you pay for prime...it was still very surprising. And with the risk of towing the company line a bit, Ship From Store is a new program and will continue to evolve and get better. Considering the item shipped from less than 20 miles from my girlfriend's house, Best Buy is even an even better position to move into next day, or even same day, than a lot of people give us credit for. Stay tuned.

    1. Who cares the distance the item came? Amazon gets the item to you in one or two days from any location in the country! When the BBY can deliver the item the same day it will be revolutionary.

      How cost effective can it be for each location to stock packing supplies and pay someone to pack and ship the items? Distribution centers work for a reason- volume.

      I can't even do an in-store pickup without waiting for inventory to pick the product after I waited 2 hours before going to the store. How many times have you seen customers wait while the warehouse has to go pull the item- or even better the item they pulled was wrong.

  4. Wow, I'm always impressed by great logistics and am pleased to see BBY is leveling the playing field here.

    This does bring to mind some recent research in "associative learning". The full article is a bit dense (http://media.terry.uga.edu/socrates/publications/2011/09/highlighting.pdf) but here's a high-level summary. The research suggests that while it can be very important to deliver equivalent benefits as our competitors, it can actually be damaging to the brand to call out this parity when it comes to key features. The basic reason is that consumers have a hard time associating that key benefit with more than one brand. Said another way, whenever people are asked to consider "fast delivery", they subconsciously bring to mind the brand most closely associated with that feature and "drown out" other brands. This doesn't mean the brand can't and shouldn't own the feature but, rather, that it's important to differentiate the benefit from the competitor (by positioning the ability to see the product in store before you buy, for example).

    Charles (with LRW)

    1. That's right. Not to mention that you don't have to be as good as your competitor, you have to be better.

      i do think that the 1400+ store base is an opportunity to do even more innovative things with logistics, not to mention our Geek Squad already has vehicles, or in-store pickup.

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