We generate revenue primarily from the sale of merchandise products and services, both as a principal and as an agent. Revenue is recognized when control of the promised goods or services is transferred to our customers, in an amount that reflects the transaction price consideration that we expect to receive in exchange for those goods or services. Control refers to the ability of the customer to direct the use of, and obtain substantially all of, the remaining benefits from the goods or services. Our transaction price consideration is fixed, unless otherwise disclosed below as variable consideration. We generate all of our operating revenue from contracts with customers. Our revenue excludes sales and usage-based taxes collected.
Revenue from merchandise product sales and services is reported net of sales refunds, which includes an estimate of future returns and contract cancellations based on historical refund rates, with a corresponding reduction to cost of sales. There is inherent judgment in estimating future refunds as they are susceptible to factors outside of our influence. However, we have significant experience in estimating the amount of refunds, based primarily on historical data. Our refund liability for sales returns was $68 million at May 5, 2018, which is included in Accrued liabilities on our Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets and represents the expected value of the aggregate refunds that will be due to our customers. We also have a corresponding asset included in Other current assets on our Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets that represents the inventory we expect to be returned, valued at the lower of cost or net realizable value. As of May 5, 2018, this amount was $46 million.
For revenue transactions that involve more than one performance obligation, we defer the revenue associated with any unsatisfied performance obligation until the obligation is satisfied, i.e., when control of a product is transferred to the customer or a service is completed. For such contracts, we allocate revenue and any discounts to each performance obligation based on its relative standalone selling price. We determine standalone selling prices based on the prices charged to customers or, when directly observable selling prices are not available, we generally use an expected cost-plus margin approach.
Our contract liabilities primarily relate to product merchandise not yet delivered to customers; unredeemed gift cards; services not yet completed; services technical support contracts, where performance is satisfied over the duration of the contract; and options that provide a material right to customers, such as our customer loyalty programs. Most of our contract liabilities have a duration of one year or less, except our services technical support contracts, which may have a duration of up to three years. We do not have any material contract assets.
The following table provides information about receivables and contract liabilities from our contracts with customers, which reflects the aggregate amount of the transaction price allocated to the performance obligations that are unsatisfied as of May 5, 2018, and February 4, 2018 ($ in millions):
May 5, 2018
February 4, 2018
Receivables, net of an allowance for doubtful accounts of $26 and $24, respectively
Short-term contract liabilities included in:
Unredeemed gift cards
Long-term contract liabilities included in:
We establish allowances for uncollectible receivables based on historical collection trends and write-off history. The following table summarizes our allowance for doubtful account activity related to contracts with customers during the three months ended May 5, 2018 ($ in millions):
Allowance for Doubtful Accounts
Balances at February 4, 2018
Charged to expenses or other accounts
Balances at May 5, 2018
Includes bad debt write-offs and recoveries and the effect of foreign currency fluctuations.
The following table summarizes significant changes in our contract liability balances during the three months ended May 5, 2018 ($ in millions):
Three Months Ended
May 5, 2018
Revenue recognized that was included in the contract liability balance(s) as of February 4, 2018
Revenue recognized from performance obligations satisfied in previous periods
Includes changes in the measure of progress, changes in the estimate of the transaction price or contract modifications.
The following table includes estimated revenue from our contract liability balances expected to be recognized in future periods if performance of the contract is expected to have a duration of more than one year ($ in millions):
May 5, 2018(1)
Remainder of fiscal 2019
Fiscal 2023 and thereafter
We have elected to exclude unsatisfied performance obligations from contract liability balances with a duration of one year or less. The estimated transaction price disclosed above also does not include amounts of variable consideration attributable to contracts where the consideration is constrained at May 5, 2018. Further information about our forms of variable consideration are disclosed below.
We apply a practical expedient to expense direct costs of obtaining a contract when incurred because the amortization period would have been one year or less.
See Note 10, Segments, for a disaggregation of revenue by reportable segment and product category, which represents how our chief operating decision maker reviews information internally to evaluate our financial performance and to make resource allocation and other decisions for the enterprise.
Merchandise product revenue
Merchandise product revenue is recognized when control passes, which generally occurs at a point in time when the customer completes a transaction in the store and receives the merchandise. Our payment terms are typically at the point of sale. In the case of items paid for in the store, but subsequently delivered to the customer, control passes and revenue is recognized once delivery has been completed, as we have transferred possession to the customer.
For transactions initiated online, customers choose whether to have it delivered to them (using third-party parcel delivery companies) or to collect their merchandise from one of our stores (“in-store pick up”). For items delivered directly to the customer, control passes and revenue is recognized when delivery has been completed, as title has passed and we have transferred possession to the customer. For in-store pick up, control passes and revenue is recognized once the customer has taken possession of the merchandise. Any fees charged to customers for delivery are a component of the transaction price and are recognized when delivery has been completed. We use delivery information at an individual contract level to determine when to recognize revenue for products and any related delivery fee revenue.
Generally, we are the principal to the contract as we have control of the physical merchandise products prior to transfer to the customer. Accordingly, revenue is recognized on a gross basis. For certain sales, primarily activation-based software licenses and third-party stored-value cards, we are the sales agent providing access to the content and recognize fixed commission revenue net of amounts due to third parties who fulfill the performance obligation. For these sales, control passes upon providing access to the customer of the content.
Warranty obligations associated with the sale of our exclusive brands products are assurance-type warranties that are a guarantee of the product’s intended functionality and, therefore, do not represent a distinct performance obligation within the context of the contract.
Services - When we are the principal
We recognize service revenue for installation, set-up, software troubleshooting, product repair, consultation and educational classes once the service is completed, as this is when the customer has the ability to direct the use of and obtain the benefits of the service or serviced product. Payment terms are typically at the point of sale, but may also occur upon completion of the service. Our service contracts are primarily with retail customers, merchandise vendors (for factory warranty repairs) and third-party underwriters who sell extended warranty protection plans.
For technical support membership contracts, we are responsible for fulfilling the support services to customers. These contracts have terms ranging from one month to three years and typically contain multiple performance obligations. Payment is due at the start of the contract period. We have determined that our contracts do not include a significant financing component. The primary purpose of our payment terms is to provide customers with a simplified method of purchasing our services, not to provide customers with financing. We recognize revenue over time on a service consumption basis, an input method of measuring progress over the related contract term. This method is based on historical utilization patterns as this depicts when customers use the services provided and, accordingly, when the transfer of services occurs. There is judgment in (1) determining the level at which we apply a portfolio approach to these contracts, and (2) measuring the relative standalone selling price for performance obligations within these contracts to the extent that they are only bundled and sold to customers with other performance obligations. When direct observable evidence of the standalone selling price is not available, a cost-plus margin approach is generally used. Additionally, there is judgment in (3) assessing the pattern of delivery across multiple portfolios of customers, including measuring future progress based on historical consumption patterns. When sufficient history of consumption is unavailable, we generally recognize revenue ratably over the life of the contract.
Services - When we are the agent
We sell various hardware protection plans to customers that provide extended warranty coverage on their device purchases. Such plans have terms ranging from one month to five years. Payment is due at the point of sale. Third-party underwriters assume the risk associated with the coverage and are primarily responsible for fulfillment. We record the fixed net commissions (the amount charged to the customer less the premiums remitted to the underwriter) as revenue at a point in time when the corresponding merchandise product revenue is recognized. In addition, we are eligible to receive profit-sharing payments, a form of variable consideration, which are dependent upon the profitable performance of the portfolio. We do not share in any losses of the portfolio. We record any such profit share as revenue once the uncertainty associated with the portfolio period, which is calendar-year based, is no longer constrained using the expected value method. This typically occurs when claims experience for the annual period is known in our fiscal fourth quarter, with payment of the profit share occurring in the subsequent fiscal year.
We earn fixed commissions from mobile network carriers to sell service contracts on their platforms. Revenue is recognized when control passes at a point in time upon sale of the contract and activation of the customer on the provider’s platform. The term between when we bill the content provider and when we receive payment is generally within 30 to 60 days, which is after control has passed. Activation commissions are subject to repayment to the carrier primarily due to customer cancellation for specified time periods after the sale. Commission revenue from mobile network carriers is reported net of the expected cancellations, which we estimate based on historical cancellation rates.
Credit card revenue
We offer promotional financing and credit cards issued by third-party banks that manage and directly extend credit to our customers. We provide a license to our brand and marketing services, and we facilitate credit applications in our stores and online. The banks are the sole owners of the accounts receivable generated under the program and, accordingly, we do not hold any customer receivables related to these programs and act as an agent in the financing transactions with customers. We are eligible to receive a profit share from our banking partner based on the annual performance of the program, and we receive quarterly payments based on forecasts of full-year performance. This is a form of variable consideration. We record such profit share as revenue over time using the most likely amount method, which reflects the amount earned each quarter when it is determined that the likelihood of a significant revenue reversal is not probable, which is typically quarterly. Profit-share payments occur quarterly, shortly after the end of each program quarter.
Best Buy gift cards
We sell Best Buy gift cards to our customers in our retail stores, online and through select third parties. Our gift cards do not have an expiration date. We recognize revenue from gift cards when the card is redeemed by the customer. We also recognize revenue for the portion of gift card values that is not expected to be redeemed ("breakage"). We estimate breakage based on historical patterns and take into account other factors, such as laws and regulations applicable to each jurisdiction.
We recognize gift card breakage based on the expected pattern of gift card redemptions, based on analysis of historic trends. Typically, over 90% of gift card values are redeemed within one year of issuance. There is judgment in assessing (1) the level at which we group gift cards based for analysis of breakage rates, (2) redemption patterns, and (3) the ultimate value of gift cards which we do not expect to be redeemed.
We frequently offer sales incentives that entitle our customers to receive a gift card at the time of purchase or an instant savings coupon that can be redeemed towards a future purchase. For sales incentives issued to customers that are only earned in conjunction with the purchase of merchandise products or services, the sales incentives represent an option that is a material right and, accordingly, is a performance obligation in the contract. The relative standalone selling price of these sales incentives is deferred as a contract liability, based on the cards or coupons that are projected to be redeemed. We recognize revenue for this performance obligation when it is redeemed by the customer or when it is not expected to be redeemed. There is judgment in determining (1) the level at which we group incentives based on similar redemption patterns in order to estimate future redemption patterns of those groups, and (2) the ultimate number of incentives that we do not expect to be redeemed.
We also issue coupons that are not earned in conjunction with a purchase of a merchandise product or service, typically as part of targeted marketing activities. This is not a performance obligation, but is recognized as a reduction of the transaction price when redeemed by the customer.
Customer loyalty programs
We have customer loyalty programs which allow members to earn points for each qualifying purchase. Points earned enable members to receive a certificate that may be redeemed on future purchases at our Best Buy branded stores. Depending on the customer's membership level within our loyalty program, certificate expirations typically range from 2 to 12 months from the date of issuance. Our loyalty programs represent customer options that provide a material right and, accordingly, are performance obligations for each applicable contract. The relative standalone selling price of points earned by our loyalty program members is deferred and included in Accrued liabilities on our Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets based on the percentage of points that are projected to be redeemed. We recognize revenue for this performance obligation over time when a certificate is estimated to be redeemed by the customer. There is judgment in measuring the standalone selling price of this performance obligation related to our estimate of the amount of and subsequent timing of redemptions of certificates (“certificate breakage”). We determine our certificate breakage rate based upon historical redemption patterns.