Staples, Amazon partner to sell Echo

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has chosen Staples (NYSE:SPLS) to be the exclusive retailer of its Echo speaker. The item is now available on Staples' soon-to-be revamped website for $179.99, the same price Amazon charges its non-Prime customers.

Currently, the voice-controlled smart speaker is not for sale in physical stores, The Verge reported. This will be the first time that the Amazon product is sold outside of the e-commerce retailer's own website.

The partnership is similar to ones Amazon has with Best Buy and Toys R Us to sell its Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets.

The decision to partner with a third-party, yet not make the product available through immediate gratification at a brick-and-mortar store, has some analysts questioning Amazon's motive.

"Our goal is to make our devices available wherever customers want to buy them," Brittany Turner, an Amazon spokesperson, told Bloomberg.

The partnership also comes three months after Amazon launched its Business marketplace, which rivals Staples for office supply sales.

Other recent hardware offerings launched by Amazon include the Fire TV Stick, which plugs into a TV set to allow users to browse video and music from Amazon, Netflix, Pandora and other content services. This year Amazon also introduced the Dash Button, enabling customers to reorder products through the click of a button.

But some gadgets have not succeeded, such as Amazon's Fire phone, highlighting the challenge of not having a physical store presence where shoppers can test out items before purchasing.

For more:
-See this The Verge article
-See this Bloomberg article

Related stories:
Amazon unveils business marketplace
Staples relaunches business websites
Staples offers small business loans
Staples to acquire Office Depot for $6B
Staples redesigns healthier headquarters
 

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