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Best Buy holiday revenues fall 2.5%

BY Dan Berthiaume

Minneapolis – Best Buy Co., Inc. saw its revenues for the nine-week holiday period ended Jan. 4, 2014 fall 2.5% from the same period a year earlier. Holiday revenues for the 2013 season were $11.45 billion, compared to $11.75 billion in the 2012 season.

Consolidated same-store sales only grew 0.1%, although online sales increased 23.5%. Best Buy cited a more intense than expected promotional pricing environment as a key factor in its disappointing holiday results.

“When we entered the holiday season, we said that price competitiveness was table stakes and an intensely promotional holiday season is what unfolded,” said Hubert Joly, Best Buy president and CEO. “In both channels, the promotional intensity that began with Black Friday continued throughout the period, which led us and our competitors to answer one question, do we make the incremental investment necessary to be price competitive and defend our market share? For us, there was only one answer. To advance our Renew Blue transformation, it was imperative that we live up to our customer promises and one of these promises is to offer our customers competitive prices.”

Best Buy now expects a decrease in fourth quarter operating income rate, although the retailer said it gained market share during the holiday period.

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Report: Starbucks app exposes user passwords

BY Dan Berthiaume

Seattle – The Starbucks mobile app reportedly stores customer passwords in a way that leaves them vulnerable to hackers. According to CNN, the app, which allows mobile payment, stores passwords in plain text, meaning a hacker could gain access to one without knowing a smartphone’s PIN code.

To steal a user password, the hacker would have to plug the smartphone into a computer and also have knowledge of how to gain access to a plain text file. However, doing so would allow a thief to spend money from a customer’s Starbucks account and potentially reveal password data that could be used on other digital accounts the customer holds.

Starbucks representatives told CNN that there are no reports of any Starbucks customers having their mobile app hacked, but gave no other information.

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Market share trumps margins at Best Buy

BY CSA STAFF

Best Buy’s defense of its market share proved costly during the holidays as greater-than-expected price cuts caused same-store sales to decline 0.9%, resulting in significant margin erosion and a vow to accelerate cost-cutting efforts in 2014.

Total sales for the nine-week period ended Jan. 4 declined slightly to $11.5 billion, with the domestic segment accounting for $9.75 billion of those sales. While domestic same store sales fell 0.9%, the company can take some comfort in the fact that its online comps increased 23.5%.

According to president and CEO Hubert Joly, the promotional intensity the company anticipated and participated in during Black Friday weekend accelerated throughout the entire holiday period. That was something the company didn’t anticipate, so in order to maintain market share Best Buy engaged in the highly promotional climate so much so that Joly said fourth quarter operating margins would be 175 to 185 basis points below the fourth quarter the prior year. Joly defended the price cuts as an essential component of the company’s “Renew Blue” transformation strategy and said the investment if price will be beneficial in the long run.

“Our price competitiveness combined with our improved customer experience both in-store and online, as demonstrated by a 400 basis point improvement in our Net Promoter Score, resulted in a market share gain in an industry that NPD says declined 240 basis points during the holiday period,” Joly said.

In addition to the deflationary effects of the promotional environment — which Joly said did not stimulate additional demand — other negatives during the holiday period included supply constraints for key products, traffic declines and a disappointing mobile phone market.

“Looking ahead, our holiday performance reinforces our resolve and our sense of urgency around our transformation,” Joly said.

That means the company plans to more quickly and more deeply lower its cost structure, grow online at an accelerated pace and improve the omnichannel experience. In addition, Joly said Best Buy will look to enhance its marketing approach and effectiveness, particularly relating to personalization and grow the Geek Squad business.

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