Best Buy Brings in Starbucks Talent to Take on Amazon

The man behind everything that makes Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) great — except for the coffee — is being tapped to help Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) take on Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) online while keeping up sales at brick-and-mortar sales.

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Stephen Gillett, the Starbucks chief information officer responsible for the innovations like free WiFi and payments via smartphone will join the electronics giant on Monday as president of the company’s digital business, including its online stores.

Gillett will also have the same information-systems responsibilities at Best Buy that he held at Starbucks, where his moves to offer free wireless Internet and allow payment by smartphones helped rejuvenate the customer experience under CEO Howard Schultz. Best Buy is hoping Gillett will bring some of that innovative thinking to their ongoing battle against online-only retailers.

Best Buy has been slow to embrace the online world, instead seeking to protect and preserve its big-box franchise. But now CEO Brian Dunn says the company’s success lies in marrying the two formats, which is where Gillett comes in. “If a coffee company can go through a technical renaissance, Best Buy can accomplish this e-commerce and physical combination,” said Gillett.

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To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at