Amazon.com (AMZN) has lined up a major partner to help it sell televisions that run on its new Fire TV operating system: one-time bitter rival Best Buy (BBY).
The move deepens the partnership between the companies, which already entails spaces within Best Buy’s enormous fleet of stores to showcase smart home items made by Amazon. The two companies said on Wednesday they will sell 11 models as of this summer, including TVs by Toshiba and Best Buy’s own Insignia brand. And Best Buy, which operates 1,o00 stores, will showcase TVs running on the Fire system at those locations and on its website. Best Buy will also become a seller on Amazon.com where it will be the exclusive seller of such sets.
Such a collaboration would have unthinkable only a few years ago, when many observers believed Amazon was gradually killing Best Buy as it has other electronics retailers.
But this new tie-up between the companies illustrates Best Buy’s pragmatic and so far successful approach to its rival, which consists of focusing its efforts on initiatives that bring people to physical stores, whether it be store-in-store for emerging brands and sectors like smart home products, providing expertise to customers on things like installations, and showcasing products by companies like Google. Kohl’s (KSS) is another retailer to be working closely with Amazon, and its executives have said the move has been a boon for shopper traffic.
To illustrate the goodwill between the two rivals, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly announced the partnership in person on Tuesday at a Best Buy in Bellevue, Wash.
“Amazon and Best Buy have a long history of working together, and today we take our partnership to a new level,” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in a statement. Media reports said that Bezos said on Tuesday the partnership could not have happened if the two companies did not trust each other.
The move won praise from analysts. Moody’s Charlie O’Shea said that “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.”
Best Buy gets to serve Amazon’s enormous online customer base directly for the first time, and Amazon, which only has a small fleet of stores, can show products that customers like to see in person at hundreds of well trafficked locations across the United States.