September 30, 2011, 12:00 AM

Best Buy opens its e-commerce site for other online retailers to sell products

The big consumer electronics retailer has opened its e-commerce site up to other retailers who want to sell products on BestBuy.com. Best Buy says it expects the move to expand by about 33% the amount of products offered on its site in time for the holiday shopping season.

Best Buy Co. Inc. has a new online sales pitch, but this one's for other retailers: Come to BestBuy.com to sell your stuff (as long as it's not just like ours).

The consumer electronics retailer last month launched its first e-marketplace, inviting e-retailers to list and sell items on BestBuy.com that the e-retailer doesn't carry itself.

Best Buy did not immediately respond to questions about what it charges e-retailers to sell on the marketplace, but marketplace operators typically take a cut of sales processed through their sites and often charge a flat monthly listing fee.

Best Buy expects the marketplace will expand by some 33% the products available for sale via BestBuy.com in time for the holiday shopping season. Marketplace sellers are not allowed to sell products that BestBuy.com already offers.

John Thompson, senior vice president of Best Buy and general manager of BestBuy.com, says the online mall represents Best Buy's response to consumer requests for a wider selection. "Increased assortment of products, brands and price points is exactly what people have told us they want," he says. "We listened, and developed marketplace to meet those unmet needs."

Making the grade

With the launch, e-retailers have yet another marketplace option to consider. Amazon, Buy.com, Sears, Wal-Mart and eBay all offer e-retailers the option to list and sell products on their sites.

Best Buy says it will vet e-retailers that want to sell on BestBuy.com against a set of standards, including how long the e-retailer has operated, its overall customer satisfaction rate, order cancellation history and back order history. Best Buy did not specify how it would measure those areas.

At launch the marketplace had eight participating e-retailers: Buy.com, Wayfair.com, BeachAudio.com, CametaCamera.com, ANTonline.com, Mambate.com, SFplanet.com and ElectronicExpress.com.

With the exception of Wayfair.com, the participating retailers sell consumer electronics and related accessories similar to BestBuy.com's core catalog. "As an electronics retailer, there is some logic in the strategy to expand your current category before going into new categories," says Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor Corp., which helps online retailers sell through e-marketplaces. "So given that and the Best Buy audience, I think it makes sense."

Product detail pages for items sold by a marketplace seller feature a message that the products are sold and shipped by the outside retailer. Marketplace orders are not eligible for pick-up at Best Buy stores or BestBuy.com's ship-to-store program. Consumers who purchase marketplace products go through BestBuy.com's regular checkout process and pay with a credit or debit card.

Best Buy marketplace sellers ship orders placed through BestBuy.com and also handle returns and customer service.

allison@verticalwebmedia.com

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