Lenovo expands agreement with Best Buy


PC maker Lenovo announced Thursday it is expanding its deal with Best Buy for Business, and said it would add a second notebook line to its offerings through the retail outlet in 300 locations.

The deal—which is a continuation of an agreement the two companies signed in April of 2006—underscores Lenovo's increased push in recent years to move its products to retail shelves.

"We're expanding the (Best Buy) relationship to include two units, as opposed to the one, and actually give the ability (for customers) to take some of those units home with them," Mungall said. "Last year, if the customer wanted it, they ordered it on site but it got drop-shipped to their home.The pricing methodology will be consistent with the channel," Mungall said, adding that Lenovo has worked to ensure there is no "price-disjointedness" between what Best Buy can offer and what solution providers can offer.

While IBM, prior to selling off its computer unit to Lenovo in 2005, made the strategic decision not to deal in the consumer retail space, China's largest computer maker, Lenovo, has moved in the opposite direction.

With much more experience in that segment, Lenovo and its executives have previously stated that part of their new strategy would be to create a larger consumer business to offer ThinkPad, ThinkCentre, and Lenovo 3000 PCs to small businesses.

Under the previous agreement between Best Buy and Lenovo, customers could order Lenovo PCs through a Best Buy For Business telesales team or the retail's Web site, but not purchase or test them in the stores.

"By bringing Lenovo PCs to the retail shelves of the Best Buy For Business stores, customers have hands-on access to our products and can immediately begin using their Lenovo PC," said Steve Mungall, a vice-president at Lenovo, in a statement.

Last year, Lenovo said it would begin offering its products through other retail outlets in order to focus on increasing its sales to SMBs. The first deal it signed was with Office Depot, another retailer that is currently selling ThinkPads to small-business users.

Joe Vaught, chief operating officer of PCPC Direct, a Houston-based solution provider and Lenovo channel partner, said he is encouraged by efforts the PC maker is undertaking.

"The Best Buy thing doesn't thrill me, but I expected it," Vaught said. He lauded Lenovo's strategy of working to eliminate bureaucracy in its organization, and to provide more efficient online tools and resources. "They are spending money streamlining process, where it's not (going to be) such a manual process. Our business with Lenovo is going very strong, and getting stronger by the day. I'm hoping this online improvement for the channel will help."