Amazon dominates the internet retail space, but a handful of bricks and mortar companies have been making moves in recent years to better compete. One strategy? Leverage your own strengths to launch an Amazon Prime-like service with features Amazon can’t currently match.
Last year Walmart launched Walmart+ which offers free shipping for $98 per year, but also discounted gas prices, and a scan & go feature that lets you scan items with a phone and pay using Walmart Pay.
Now Best Buy is rolling out a pilot for its own membership program called Best Buy Beta.
While Amazon Prime started as a free shipping program, over the years Amazon has added a number of digital perks including streaming movies, TV shows and music, discounts, and games. Best Buy can’t easily match those features, but the company does have the advantage of bricks and mortar stores and an existing network of tech support, delivery, and installation professionals, and that’s what the company is leveraging for its new membership program.
Priced at $200 per year (or $180 for folks who pay with a Best Buy Credit Card), it’s one of the pricier options. But in addition to free shipping on all purchases (with no minimum pricing), Best Buy Beta offers:
- Discounted pricing on “a wide range of products”
- Free in-home delivery and installation for “most” products”
- 60-day extended return window
- 2-year protection on “most purchases at Best Buy, including AppleCare on Apple products”
- Unlimited Geek Squad tech support for all tech in your home (including items you did not purchase from Best Buy)
- 10-percent off subscription services that are billed through Best Buy
- Dedicated concierge support
While I could imagine Amazon matching some of those perks for things like returns and warranty plans, it’s hard to see Amazon adding items that require a personal touch – such as tech support or home installation. The company did experiment with a live remote support feature for Fire tablet users called Mayday for a few years, but Amazon pulled the plug on Mayday in 2018 when the company shifted its focus to low-cost tablets.
Best Buy Beta is currently only available at select stores in Iowa, Oklahoma, and eastern Pennsylvania but Best Buy plans to expand to more markets later this month.
Eventually the plan is to roll out across the United States, when Best Buy Beta will replace the company’s existing membership plan, the $200 per year Total Tech Support program which includes unlimited tech support and discounts on repairs and installation.