Best Buy, Kodak Team Up For Photo Web Site

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Emeryville, Calif — Best Buy and Kodak have teamed to launch a co-branded photo center Web page on BestBuy.com, significantly expanding the CE retailer’s photo merchandise offerings.

The new online photo center will debut on May 3 and replace the existing photo page on Best Buy’s site with a co-branded one offering the full range of Kodak’s photo merchandise products — such as photo prints, books, calendars and mugs.

Best Buy will promote the new online capability with in-store photo merchandise displays by its digital cameras in all of its stores, said Kevin Winneroski, Best Buy’s digital imaging merchandising VP. Additionally, Best Buy stores will sell prepaid cards for buying photo merchandise online along with cards for a one-year $49.99 subscription to the Gallery’s Premiere membership.

“Kodak’s breadth of offerings allows us to offer more for our customers,” Winneroski said. “We see a lot of growth potential in photo merchandise.”

According to a recent study by InfoTrends, the North American market for photo merchandise (not including prints) is expected to reach $800 million by 2010.

Winneroski noted that Best Buy is continuing to explore other options — like in-store printing. “Consumers need to find something different at a Best Buy” than at other chains that offer retail photofinishing, Winneroski said.

Silver halide orders placed through Best Buy’s site will be produced by Kodak’s wholesale subsidiary Qualex while books and other products will be produced by third party partners, said Madhav Mehra, general manager, Kodak Gallery.

Initially, online orders will be mailed back to consumer’s homes.

“We are excited that the blue shirts will actually be demonstrating these photo products for consumers,” Mehra said. “It is the real ‘clicks-to-bricks’ concept coming to life.”

Other retail outlets sequester their photo centers behind the counter while Best Buy had a more fluid layout that encourages more interaction, he added.

“We think there is a lot of overlap between Kodak and Best Buy customers,” Mehra said.

While Kodak offers several retail partnerships through the Gallery, such as online-to-store printing for Ritz and CVS, the Best Buy site is the “most comprehensive” retail pair-up to date, Mehra said. Unlike competitors such as Snapfish, Kodak does not “white label” its online services to other partners. “It’s not a part of our strategy for the Gallery,” Mehra said.

The current partnership with Best Buy is a three year deal, Mehra said, though he declined to comment on whether Kodak would enter into similar co-branded relationships with other retailers.

It marks the second high profile partnership between Kodak and Best Buy in recent months. Kodak launched its new line of inkjet photo printers exclusively through the CE retailer.

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