Best Buy: an active SmartWay Shipper Partner

Best Buy: an active SmartWay Shipper Partner

Best Buy Co., the familiar multinational retailer of technology and entertainment products and services, is only about 40 years old – younger than many in the group of large retail outlets, but old if you include it in the collection of electronics merchandisers. The company, however, has accomplished much in its four decades of existence. Since its establishment in Minnesota’s Twin Cities area, it has been an active corporate citizen while expanding both nationally and internationally.

And its efforts have not gone unnoticed. Kathleen Edmond, the company’s chief ethics officer, recently announced that Best Buy was one of only 110 companies worldwide to be included as one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies.” It also is a leading distributor of EnergyStar home appliances, products designed for long-term energy and cost-saving operation. It should be no surprise, then, that the company with such a long history of environmental responsibility also joined SmartWay as a shipper partner. As such, it is committed to improving its environmental performance by adopting SmartWay shipper strategies, which include:

• Contract with SmartWay members as preferred motor carriers
• Use intermodal cartage whenever possible
• Provide SmartWay partners with prime docking times and locations
• Offer climate-controlled comfort stations at docking facilities so drivers won’t need to idle their trucks during delivery operations
• Implement a “No Idle” policy for any truck delivering to or picking up from its facilities
• Upgrading its light-duty fleet to more fuel-efficient and lower-emitting vehicles

Best Buy clearly does not take its SmartWay shipper responsibilities lightly. In 2009, 61 of Richfield, Minn.-based Best Buy’s 68 carriers were SmartWay partners and 89% of Best Buy’s total freight was being handled by SmartWay carriers. This was an increase of 40% in just two years. Best Buy now contractually requires all of its over-the-road trucking and intermodal business to be handled by SmartWay partners.

Clearly, participation in the SmartWay Partnership is “strongly encouraged” for all its transportation partners. As a result of such encouragement, 12 of the company’s existing contract carriers have joined the SmartWay Transport Partnership.

Best Buy uses intermodal carriers mainly with inbound transport operations and considers SmartWay rail carrier partner BNSF Railway to be a strategic partner. As a result of this alliance, 60% of Best Buy’s vendor-to-distribution center freight moves intermodally.

To further comply with SmartWay Shipper strategies, all Best Buy retail locations prohibit idling while on company property. To encourage compliance with this policy, the company provides comfort stations and access to store facilities for drivers.

Recently, the Ford Transit Connect van, an EPA SmartWay-certified vehicle, was selected as transportation for the Geek Squad, a Best Buy subsidiary, as part of the company’s continuing efforts to build a more fuel-efficient fleet and streamlined transportation system. 290 Ford Transit Connect compact utility vans will be used instead of larger cargo vans by Geek Squad technicians who service home appliances. This will enable Best Buy to save a projected $300,000 or more in annual fuel costs and reduce CO2 emissions by a potential 2.4 million pounds or more per year.

The company’s operations department has worked to streamline its on-site customer service activities and as a result, has been able to increase technician efficiency and decrease the amount of tools and parts carried to customer sites. That has enabled technicians to do the same work using a smaller, lighter and more fuel-efficient vehicle. According to Jason Pucely, senior manager of Best Buy Fleet Operations, “The Ford Transit Connect provides utility and fuel efficiency. It offers the functionality Best Buy technicians require to get their work done while not compromising on some of the space requirements that a full-size cargo van offers.”

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