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Best Buy aims to avoid Black Friday/Cyber Monday inventory meltdown

Best Buy Black Friday ad
Best Buy is already showing off its lineup of Black Friday deals. Last year, customers experienced back-order problems, but the company says that won't happen again.Best Buy

During the 2011 holiday buying season, Best Buy offered many online Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, but it failed to stock the inventory required to fill all the orders. The company made things much worse by failing to notify its customers until just a week before Christmas.

"What happened last year will not happen again," Best Buy management said in a statement to HD Guru, blaming the debacle on "unprecedented traffic rates and some system limitations."

How will Best Buy avoid disappointing hordes of TV-buying consumer this season? New policies put in effect for this holiday season include strict back-order limits and quicker order status notification. If Best Buy can’t fill your Black Friday order, you should hear about it no later than Dec. 7.

A Best Buy spokesperson provided HD Guru with statements on the new policies: 

Back-order reduction

We have limited the number of backorders allowed to ensure they can be filled within 14 days.

Back-order management

We’ve added a series of alerts and reports so we can to proactively identify and resolve potential backorders. We will automatically cancel backorders that are not fulfilled within 14 days or as communicated to the customers.

System enhancements

In addition to the updated backorder process, we’ve made changes to the customer experience which flags sold out items more quickly on BestBuy.com. We’ve increased our systems inventory checks, which improve the accuracy of our inventory status at any given time.

Fulfillment capacity

We have doubled the size of our distribution centers and have added staff to speed up the fulfillment of our online orders. In addition, with our in-store pickup capability, we consider our more than 1000 stores additional fulfillment centers.

Customer communications

We’ll communicate better and more often with our Best Buy.com customers, via email and messaging on our site. We have revamped our customer service process to ensure that customers know the status of their order, including when they can expect to receive it. We’ve also made changes to the customer experience which flags sold out items more quickly on Best Buy.com.

Guarantee?

HD Guru asked the Best Buy spokesperson if they will be offering a fulfillment guarantee to its online customers that receive an order confirmation. In a word, no. Here is there response verbatim, basically a reprise of the policies mentioned above:

Once a product is ordered online we provide an expected delivery date. We've increased our systems inventory checks, which improve the accuracy of our inventory status at any given time so we are confident that we have product to fulfill an order.In the case of backordered products, we have limited the number of backorders allowed to ensure that product can be filled within 14 days. We will automatically cancel backorders that are not fulfilled within 14 days or as communicated to the customers.

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