Best Buy paid membership program is its Amazon Prime response

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Amazon really turned the retail industry on its head and even until now big shot competitors from brick and mortar businesses are still trying to catch up to it. One of Amazon's biggest weapons is Prime membership and its perks and rivals are still trying their hand at offering their customers something similar. After Walmart's own Walmart+, Best Buy is now testing its own paid subscription program but with a more "human" spin to set it apart from Amazon Prime.

At this point in time, it's almost futile to compete with Amazon Prime's perks when it comes to pricing and the delivery of goods. Not that Walmart or Best Buy are incapable of matching whatever Amazon offers, just that they might not be able to offer more than that. Best Buy, however, seems to think it can by adding a human element to its premium service.

The pilot membership program christened Best Buy Beta does have the usual exclusive discounts, fast and free shipping, and other shopping perks you might expect from such a retail-oriented subscription service. Beyond that, however, it is also offering services like exclusive concierge support, free home installation on most products, and unlimited tech support from its famous Geek Squad.

It is questionable whether those perks can really drive Best Buy Beta's success but it does underscore something that is often taken for granted. Not everyone buying new products, especially technological and electronic ones, might have the know-how to navigate the installation and use of these devices. What Best Buy Beta practically offers isn't just convenience but some assurance of human support as well.

That, however, does come at a steeper price than others, with the premium membership costing $199.99 per year. It is currently available only at select stores in Iowa, Oklahoma, and eastern Pennsylvania but is planned to expand to Minnesota, North Carolina, and Tennessee this month.