Best Buy Hires Starbucks Executive to Run Digital Business

Electronics retailer Best Buy took a huge step forward in its ongoing efforts to compete with Amazon in the online marketplace Friday by hiring a new executive away from Starbucks. 36 year-old Stephen Gillet was instrumental in a number of key initiatives while at Starbucks, including accepting payments through mobile phones and offering free wireless Internet service at all the company’s locations. Gillet was considered such a vital part of Starbucks’ recent strong performance, in fact, that Fortune magazine named him one of America’s top 40 executives under the age of 40 in 2010.

Brick-and-mortar retailers like Best Buy have seen sales decline over the last few years as Americans have increasingly turned to online retailers like and eBay. Best Buy does have its own website through which it sells products, but has been slow to adapt new innovations and technologies, leaving it far behind the Internet-only retailers in sales and user traffic. Part of the problem has been that Best Buy’s existing management has been so focused on turning around sales at Best Buy’s physical locations, little attention has been paid to the e-commerce side of the business.

That’s where Gillett comes in. As the company’s new president of digital business, Gillett will be responsible for overhauling Best Buy’s website, marketing across the Internet to increase user traffic, and designing the company’s overall strategy in online, mobile and other digital formats. At the same time, Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn is looking to reduce the size of physical Best Buy locations to reduce costs as consumers increasingly turn to digital outlets for shopping needs