Retail

San Francisco Startup Lumoid Lets Best Buy Shoppers Try Before They Buy

Best Buy Tweaks Omni

What does Best Buy have that Amazon doesn’t? Thanks to a partnership with San Francisco startup Lumoid, it's a rental option that lets electronics shoppers try before they buy.

Later in June, online Best Buy shoppers will have the option to rent a camera, audio equipment and a fitness tracker by clicking the “try before you buy” option on BestBuy.com and completing the rental through Lumoid’s site.

Lumoid awards around 20 percent of the rental price in credits from the startup, which the customer can apply to the purchase if they decide to buy after they try it. Shoppers can purchase the exact product they rented, which will have been an open-box item (something a customer bought and returned to Best Buy, so it can’t be sold at full price). Or they can send back the rental and buy a brand-new product.

This is a good way for Best Buy to get a few more dollars out of returned items. But perhaps more importantly, it’s a good way for Best Buy to develop a connection with customers early in the buying process. Could this be the edge that the $39 billion retailer needs to stay abreast of Amazon?

It’s important to note that Best Buy’s biggest eCommerce competitor, Amazon, does not offer a similar rental service. In fact, no one else in the space seems to have anything like it. Since many people are already buying things, trying them and returning them — so basically, trying before they buy — it makes sense for Best Buy to formally provide the option and make a little extra cash from the deal.

Rentals cost around $50 a day. For the same price, shoppers can try an Apple Watch for a week. Lumoid reportedly has the most success turning triers into buyers in the wearables category, where one of every three renters go on to purchase the item.

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