Best Buy Plays Santa's Helper

Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  ) has always excelled in addressing its customers' needs and wants, from its Magnolia home theatre concept to its always-on Geek Squad tech support. Not surprisingly, it's seeking to wow consumers again this season with a new offering, AskaBlueShirt.com.

The site, simultaneously simple and audacious, seeks to suggest gifts that will create that overwhelming "wow" moment for their recipients. The company is working with Paco Underhill, consumer shopping expert and author of Why We Buy, to hopefully tie more of shoppers' memorable holiday experiences to a Best Buy product.

It's a good idea, helping to separate the retailer from competitors like Circuit City (NYSE: CC  ) , Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) , and even Tweeter (NYSE: TWTR  ) in what promises to be another tough holiday season. Best Buy wants to suggest gifts that will make people happy, by focusing on both the interests of the recipient and the message the giver wants to send. Answer those tough questions for your customers, and they'll keep returning to your site and your store. For consumers like me, who struggle with what to buy loved ones each year, it might even serve as a convenient excuse if my gifts disappoint -- "The Blue Shirt site suggested it, Mom!"

Will the advice initiative create the good kind of blue Christmas for Best Buy? Based on my experience with the site, I believe so. It's well-designed, its choices detailed without being overwhelming, and the resulting suggestions are actually quite useful -- some iPod accessories for a iPod-toting friend, for example.

Would Best Buy stock make a useful addition to an investor's gift bag? I've got plenty of respect for the company, but the law of large numbers seems to have caught up with it, and its revenue growth has been middling recently. Perhaps if Mr. Market granted us a 25% red-tag sale on the company, I'd be more inclined to wrap this one up.

For more retail Foolishness:

Best Buy is aMotley Fool Stock Advisorpick. Stuff your stocking with superior stock selections from David and Tom Gardner, Santa's Foolish helpers. In the spirit of giving, you can try the Fool's flagship investing newsletter service free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Stephen Ellis does not own shares in any companies mentioned. You canview the stocks he owns and check out his99th-percentile ranking inMotley Fool CAPS, the Fool's new stock-rating community. Wal-Mart is an Inside Value recommendation.The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.


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