Circuit City Stores, Inc. (NYSE: CC) is following the the nation’s largest consumer electronics chain onto the Internet to push sales of TVs, VCRs, stereos and, fittingly, computer products. The company announced a plan to relaunch its www. circuitcity.com site Wednesday as an online store. The Web site has been primarily a source of product information and a store locator until now.
Better Late than Never?
Circuit City is the second of the three major U.S. consumer electronics chains to offer online sales. As reported, Tandy Corp.’s Radio Shack put its thousands of electronics products and parts on the Web in May. At that time, Circuit City had said it was looking at the possibility of following suit, while a Best Buy stores spokeswoman said the company is designing an e-commerce site for launch later this year. Best Buy currently sells CDs, tapes and digital versatile discs online.
Circuit City will initially put about 800 items on sale this week. Since it will be tackling Radio Shack and myriad regional and small independent electronics retailers on the Web, Circuit City says it plans to differentiate itself by providing shoppers more information, including information on all 1,100 products availabe in its retail stores. In addition to “extensive” product literature, the company says it will enable visitors to conduct side-by-side price and feature comparisons between products available online, just as a visitor might do when viewing three different VCRs on a store shelf.
Flexible Access to Goods
The electronics merchant also hopes to draw buyers by giving customers a choice of how they want to get their goods. Customers can pick up their purchases from a local store or have them shipped. All of the products purchased online can also be exchanged, returned or repaired at any Circuit City Superstore. The retail chain currently includes 548 Superstores, two consumer electronics-only stores and 46 mall-based Circuit City Express stores.
For customers who choose to pick up their purchases at a local store, they will be charged the lowest price available between the online store and the local outlet. So if a product is on sale for less at the local store, if consumers buy the product online and pick it up there, they will be charged the lower price.
Circuit City expects to expand its online offerings to include refrigerators, washers, dryers and satellite TV systems. The retailer also is developing a brand-name personal computer build-to-order program and home delivery and set-up of larger consumer electronics items and major appliances. The company hopes to increase its total online product offerings to the scale of its retail stores by the holiday selling season.