Best Buy’s New Weapon Against Amazon: Try Before You Buy

Over the last few years, the idea of short-term rentals has taken off in industries from lodging to fashion. Now Best Buy is trying to push that same trend into the mainstream for consumer electronics.

Later this month, the big-box retailer will start advertising try-before-you-buy rentals on its website for cameras, audio equipment and fitness trackers, the company recently told Recode. Best Buy is working with a San Francisco-based startup called Lumoid on the partnership.

Best Buy will feature the try-before-you-buy option on BestBuy.com and then send interested customers to Lumoid's website to make the rental. Customers earn about 20 percentage of the rental price back in Lumoid credits and can use them if they go on to buy the item outright.

For Best Buy, the partnership could evolve into a way to wring more dollars out of so-called "open box" items -- these are goods that a Best Buy customer has bought but then returned so they can't be resold at full price. Best Buy is providing these goods to Lumoid to rent out.

Perhaps more importantly, the offering could also help the $39 billion retailer develop a connection with customers earlier in the buying process -- perhaps increasing the odds that they will turn to Best Buy over a competitor like Amazon when they are ready to buy.

"Customers are not walking into physical stores for discovery," said Aarthi Ramamurthy, Lumoid's founder and CEO. "They already know what they want and they just go in to get it."

Best Buy has battled through the rise of Amazon better than many industry insiders expected over the last couple of years. A price-matching policy along with the bankruptcy of some competitors - coupled with above-average e-commerce growth -- have contributed to a stock price increase of 67 percent since this time two years ago.

The partnership seems...

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