Best Buy, Amazon Add New Virtual Shopping Features

Hoping to find more ways to stand apart from other retailers, both Best Buy and Amazon are rolling out new shopping experiences. For Best Buy, that includes adding a new virtual shopping experience for online shoppers and opening 40 more of its in-real-life Experience Stores, a format it’s been dabbling with for several years.

Meanwhile, Amazon is rolling out Inspire to select customers, which allows people to tap on a video or photo and quickly see colors, options, reviews and prices.

For Best Buy, based in Minneapolis, the announcement comes as the company finds new ways to focus on product and category discovery rather than just a speedy and seamless click-and-buy approach. At the Experience Store, for instance, people can test e-bikes, scooters, grills, pizza ovens, rowers and even LEGO.

In the virtual stores, customers can ask the on-duty Blue Shirts to demonstrate and explain product features. For example, treadmill shoppers can virtually chat with a fitness expert, who can walk them through brand and feature differences.



The idea kicked off as a pilot last year and includes a 40,000-square-foot studio space stocked with ten different product categories. In some ways, it looks like any other Best Buy. But instead of customers, there’s a team of specially trained salespeople.

“We know that shopping for technology can sometimes get complicated, and this new virtual store experience gives customers a way to easily connect with another human to get advice and recommendations while they shop,” said Damien Harmon, executive vice president of omnichannel, in its announcement. “Whether a customer is looking for the latest big screen TV, a piece of fitness equipment, or a kitchen appliance, the virtual experience lets us help our customers on a more personal level, even if they’re shopping from their couch.”

Amazon’s new Inspire offer takes a different approach, encouraging people to tap into outside experts and influencers for advice. After opening the Amazon Shopping app, people can tap on the light bulb.The Seattle-based ecommerce giant says the Tikj-Tok-esque innovation means people no longer need to search elsewhere or comment on a post to get details. They can choose from more than 20 different interests, like gaming, pets or make-up, to personalize their feed.

As the feature rolls out in the coming months, Amazon plans to add more shoppable content, with a focus on more immersive shopping experiences.

“Inspire is our new shopping experience that connects Amazon customers with shoppable content created by other customers, the latest influencers, and a wide range of brands,” said Oliver Messenger, director of Amazon Shopping, in its announcement. “In just a few taps, customers can discover new products or get inspiration on what to buy, tailored to their interests, and then shop for those items on Amazon.”

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