In an industry facing growing concerns about e-waste, the “rapid obsolescence” of products, and continued supply chain human rights issues, the senior leaders at Best Buy aim to transform the company’s business model from one based on selling only products to one that focuses on delivering “digital connections”—those technologies and services that help “connect customers to people, knowledge, ideas, and fun.” Recognizing that sustainability is key to that future, Best Buy partnered with BSR to turn that vision into a practical strategy aligned with the company’s other key priorities.
Our three-phase approach allowed Best Buy to set a clear direction for its sustainability objectives:
Given Best Buy’s rapid growth in sales and its move into new services and businesses, we began by conducting interviews with 40 Best Buy executives and more than 20 external sustainability experts and stakeholders. We used this information to examine Best Buy’s business direction, management perspectives on sustainability, and current gaps in the company’s sustainability-related activities. Next, we mapped near-term trends affecting the consumer electronics industry, such as new regulations and the increasing costs of input materials. We also reviewed outside perspectives on Best Buy’s role in developing more sustainable products and the opportunities associated with the company’s desire to transition from products to solutions.
We analyzed more than 60 sustainability issues—from digital privacy, to access to technology, to product safety, to transportation—based on how they affect Best Buy’s business and based on their importance to consumers, communities, governments, NGOs, and others. We presented the results to Best Buy’s Sustainability Team and Advisory Group, which used the presentation to agree on four priority areas: Product Stewardship, Sustainability Solutions, Access, and Inspired Workplace.
3. Strategy Development
Once Best Buy's senior leaders validated BSR’s conclusions, BSR and the sustainability team defined goals for each area:
- Product Stewardship: to lead the industry from product design to end-of-use solutions
- Sustainability Solutions: to provide products and services that allow customers to lead more sustainable lives
- Access: to build business models that enable people who don’t have it today to access all the benefits of the connected world
- Inspired Workplace: to become the preferred place of work because of sustainability efforts
We also helped Best Buy develop specific targets for each area, and we proposed a sustainability governance structure that creates clear leadership and accountability within the company and a structured review process that incorporates external input.
By nature, strategy projects set the direction for changes that come into practice fully over the medium to long term. Best Buy has made significant progress in establishing its sustainability strategy and a foundation for progress. To begin implementing this strategy, company leaders have started to develop relationships with consumer products manufacturers that are focused on sustainability and are key to the achievement of Best Buy’s sustainability goals.