Best Buy, like any big box retailer, sees a lot of returns. It’s not debilitating, but it does pose some problems — most immediately, what to do with items that have been opened and returned. Usually, Best Buy stores restock those items and sell them at lower prices, but thanks to a partnership with a rental startup, the retailer will soon use those items to help customers try before they buy.
According to Recode, Best Buy has reached an agreement with Lumoid to launch a gadget rental program later this month. Have your eye on an awesome new camera, but aren’t sure if it’ll be worth the cost to you? Best Buy’s website will soon give you the option to rent that camera from Lumoid for a fraction of the cost.
The program could prove particularly useful for emerging device types like wearables. Getting smartwatches onto the wrists of customers who would otherwise be too skeptical to buy could ultimately lead to increased sales. That’s been Lumoid’s experience so far — one in three people who rent a wearable end up buying it instead of sending it back.
The plan is for Best Buy to send Lumoid their opened and returned items, which will be sent to anyone renting a device. Upon renting a device, customers will also get 20 percent of the purchase price as credit in their Lumoid account, which can be used to make purchasing the item outright a little cheaper. Just one thing to watch out for when you go to use the new rental program later this month — it won’t be possible to rent drones.
By doing this, Best Buy is competing against the tried and true rental method — buying stuff and returning it. There are some advantages to the rental approach for consumers, though. For one, they won’t have to pay the entire cost of the device up front, which matters when we’re talking about gadgets that costs hundreds of dollars. Serial returners in fear of being flagged will be able to rent with impunity — while some retailers’ return policies are more lenient than others, all of them will take action eventually when someone has a habit of returning several items every month.
The downside is that it will still cost some money — you won’t get the rental fee back, while you’ll get a full refund if you buy and return an item. That means the rental program won’t replace buying and returning for many people, but it could allow many to at least get their hands on expensive gadgets that they might not want to pay full price for just yet.