Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg via Getty Images
By John Kell
June 5, 2014

Can startups help save struggling 93-year-old RadioShack (RSH)?

The electronics chain on Thursday announced a partnership with PCH International to launch “RadioShack Labs,” which aims to add vibrancy to RadioShack’s shelves by giving inventors and startups an opportunity to develop products that could soon be stocked in RadioShack’s stores.

The pact with PCH, which helps firms develop their products and supply chain, should result in those products being sold at the chain’s stores later this year. RadioShack said it intends to offer PCH’s clients “special retail terms,” and create a direct path to stock items at up to 2,000 stores and on the company’s website.

The bid to tap startups comes at a tough time for RadioShack, which sells mobile devices, accessories, and other consumer electronics. The chain has reported annual losses the past two years. Revenue has declined for three straight years, falling 18% to $3.43 billion over that period. The retailer’s struggles are mostly due to strong competition from larger rivals that sell the same products but typically with a wider selection. Those competitors include Amazon.com (AMZN) and Best Buy (BBY).

“Traditionally, big retailing requires big inventory, but we can improve our supply chain and be a more nimble partner,” said RadioShack chief executive Joe Magnacca. He said it was important for the company to stock the “exciting” consumer products being developed by startups.

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