Former Starbucks exec to be Best Buy digital chief

Fri Mar 9, 2012 7:59am EST

* Former chief information officer to join Best Buy

* To oversee ecommerce businesses, digital marketing

* Stephen Gillett to report directly to Best Buy CEO Dunn

* CEO: Best Buy online business to more than double in 5 yrs

By Dhanya Skariachan

NEW YORK, March 9 (Reuters) - Best Buy Co named former Starbucks Chief Information Officer Stephen Gillett as the head of its digital and global business services, effective March 14.

The news comes as the world's largest consumer electronics chain looks to find better ways to woo mobile and online shoppers, and tries to fend off rivals like Amazon.com.

In this newly created position, Gillett, 36, will oversee Best Buy's ecommerce businesses, information technologies and global shared services.

Gillett will also be in charge of Best Buy's digital strategy and marketing efforts, and finding new ways to "make technology a bigger part of the customer experience while enhancing operations and processes," the company said on Friday.

Gillett will report directly to Best Buy Chief Executive Brian Dunn.

In an interview ahead of the official announcement, Dunn said he saw Gillett accelerating Best Buy's transformation from best-in-class consumer electronics physical retailer to a multi-channel retailer.

Dunn expects Best Buy's online business to more than double in the next five years, and said the company was keen to build on the online sales growth seen during the past two quarters and in December.

"We want to build on that momentum and Stephen's track record makes it clear that he can help us engage customers online in ever more compelling ways," said Dunn.

Under Gillett's leadership, Starbucks decided to provide free Wi-Fi at all its U.S. outlets to boost customer traffic. He was also instrumental in helping Starbucks launch an in-store digital network with Yahoo, allowing customers to access local news, restaurant reviews and business news sites.

"The changing consumer is something you need to embrace," Gillett told Reuters. "There has been an elusive dream over the last 10 or 12 years for a company that can continually crack the code on physical and digital merging."

Gillett said that Best Buy was "well-positioned" to do just that. For starters, Best Buy plans to test mobile payments at some point, the executives said.

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