Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. (Best Buy Photo)
Best Buy will sell new TVs running Amazon’s Fire TV Edition in an unusual partnership that will make the electronics retailer a third-party seller on Amazon for the first time.
The surprise deal, announced this morning, represents the online retail giant’s latest move into physical stores. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reiterated the importance of blending online retail with brick-and-mortar stores in comments at an press event Tuesday with Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly.
“Best Buy, with a very large physical footprint, lets people come into the stores and see the product, which is very important,” Bezos said during the event, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “People do want to come in and see the TV, they want to experiment with the TV, try it out.”
The companies have worked together in the past, with Best Buy selling Amazon’s Kindle and Alexa products, but as Bezos noted in a press release, this takes their partnership to “a new level.”
“What we’re doing is so deeply integrated,” Bezos said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “It’s only possible because we trust each other.”
At @BestBuy catching up with CEO Hubert Joly and announcing our collaboration on the next generation of smart TVs. Couldn’t ask for a better partner, and the product is killer. Full Alexa integration: “Alexa, watch ABC” or “Alexa, watch Westworld.” #FireTVEdition pic.twitter.com/Dsq8VBOSA7
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) April 18, 2018
A deep level of integration and trust is surely not the traditional relationship between Amazon and physical retailers. Best Buy’s new status as a third-party seller on Amazon is especially notable, as the Minneapolis-based chain has stood out as a comeback story after online retail upended the world of traditional retail. The company currently has more than 1,000 stores in North America.
Whether the partnership leads to bigger things between the companies remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Amazon is looking for more and more ways to extend its reach into physical stores — from its $13.7 billion Whole Foods acquisition to its fledgling line of bookstores, grocery stores and pickup locations.
Amazon first started rolling out TVs with Fire TV software built in natively last year, expanding beyond its Fire TV set-top box and Fire TV Stick. Under the Best Buy deal, the companies are expected to sell eleven Fire TV Edition smart TVs starting this year, from Toshiba and Best Buy house brand Insignia. They will be available in Best Buy stores, on Best Buy.com, and from Best Buy’s new channel on Amazon.com.
“This new collaboration between Amazon and Best Buy on the Smart TV front is a deepening of what we believe has been a mutually-beneficial relationship for several years as Best Buy is a leading retailer of Amazon devices,” said Charlie O’Shea, lead retail analyst at Moody’s Investors Service, in a statement. “In this iteration, Best Buy gets new devices that will drive foot traffic into its stores, and Amazon gets a brick-and-mortar showroom for more of its proprietary products. … In sum, a win-win.”
Existing Amazon Fire TV Edition sets under the Element brand are currently listed as unavailable on Amazon. The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon says they are sold out and won’t be restocked. In addition, Best Buy’s Insignia TVs reportedly will no longer come with Roku’s rival operating system — a development that hit Roku’s stock in trading Wednesday morning.
Pricing for the new TVs has not yet been announced.