Best Buy Perfects Omnichannel Retail With New “Try Before You Buy” Option

If you’re a retailer looking for a way to perfect the omnichannel experience—or even just try to understand a little better what the heck omnichannel retailing even means—take a moment to look at what Best Buy has done over the past few months as they’ve drug themselves out of retail’s black hole and back into relevancy. The latest example of the big box retailer stepping firmly into the 21st Century is their new option that will allow consumers to try certain product out before they fully commit to making the purchase.

best-buy-store>According to a report on Recode this week, Best Buy is partnering with San Francisco-based startup Lumoid to bring the tech firm’s “try before you buy” program to customers through the platform. Best Buy will prominently advertise the program on its website and then push consumers over to Lumoid’s platform. There, customers will be able to basically rent cameras, audio equipment, fitness trackers, and more to test them out for a small fee without having to commit to making the full purchase. From there, the consumer can then return the product or opt to use a portion of the rental fee towards making a purchase.

If the customer decides to purchase the product, Lumoid (presumably working with Best Buy) will ship the customer a new, unopened product.

As Recode reported, this partnership with Best Buy and Lumoid presents tons of opportunity for the consumer electronics retailer. For one, it gives Best Buy an enormous avenue for generating entirely new streams revenue from returned product. So-called “open box” product can’t be resold at full price, no matter the condition the customer returns it in. But offering consumers the option to rent that product for a small fee means these used items can continue to bring in money.

Additionally, the “try before you buy” program will ideally help the big box retailer develop a deeper connection with its customers earlier in the shopping experience. More and more, customers are heading to a store like Best Buy already knowing what it is they’re going there for. The research aspect of the customer journey, more often than not, begins online. By meeting the customer online and offering them a way to get the product that they are interested in physically in their hands before having to commit to a purchase is an exceptionally brilliant way to create that connection. And, ideally, the customer will remember what that experience was like and decide to complete the purchase at Best Buy (rather than Amazon).

And, for it’s part, Lumoid has a fairly-proven track record of success. According to the company, about a third of all consumers who use the service for wearable rentals end up purchasing one.

A Familiar Strategy

If this short term rental option sounds all too familiar, it’s because it has been popping up in all sorts of industries these days. Granted, the model is a little different, Airbnb is a prime example of this in the lodging industry. Elsewhere, companies like Trunk Club have used the try before you buy method as a subscription model to disrupt the fashion industry.

This way of shopping is very much a new trend but one that appears to be sticking. Consumers are latching on to the concept of being able to try something out as if it’s their own prior to paying full price.

Best Buy deserves a ton of credit for finding a way to adapt this to the consumer electronics space. They’ve found an area of whitespace in the omnichannel retail experience—they’re now doing something that Amazon is not. They’re providing an extra level of customer service that could be just enough to convince someone to complete their purchase with them rather than a competitor.

Best Buy did not confirm to Recode any of the financial details involved with the partnership, but it likely includes some form of revenue share. Recode also asked about the possibility that Best Buy would take an equity stake in Lumoid, but they declined to answer.

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