Shopping Online: Circuit City uses eCommerce

Consumer electronics have long been one category of products that have sold extremely well on the Net. One brick-and-mortar electronics giant has noticed and is finally adding e-commerce capabilities to its Web site.

Circuit City’s existing Web site [http://www.circuitcity.com/] offers information about products, sales, rebates, and job listings. The site also contains a store locator feature, corporate information and a section on new music and video releases. However, the extensive site does not allow consumers to purchase electronics right online.

Well, that is going to change. Circuit City recently announced plans to fully join the Internet age and upgrade its site with e-commerce capabilities, opening a so-called “E-Superstore,” which is scheduled to virtually open for business sometime in July.

“We intend to seamlessly integrate our existing store offer with the Web shopping offer. With Circuit City’s E-Superstore, customers will find convenient and money-saving options not available from Web- only retailers,” said Alan McCollough, Circuit City’s president and chief operating officer. “When we launch our E-Superstore, consumers can use the Web site to gather product information prior to their Circuit City store visit or purchase merchandise directly from the site.”

Circuit City’s E-Superstore will offer consumers numerous services including local superstore inventory/express pickup. Specifically, consumers will be able to check the inventory of multiple Circuit City Superstores in their area and complete the transaction online. Consumers can then pick up their product at a pre-selected Circuit City store. Consumers can also pay the standard shipping fee to have their E-Superstore purchases shipped directly to their home.

“We learned through our Personal Computer Build-to-Order business, which gives customers the ability to configure name-brand computers and order them directly from the manufacturer that the majority of customers for big-ticket products prefer the convenience and security of in-store pickup,” says McCollough. “We believe the tight integration of the Circuit City Web site and our Superstores gives the customer the best of both worlds. We can truly sell the way today’s customer wants to buy. The customer will not have to compromise.”

Consumers who choose Circuit City’s express pickup will automatically receive the lower of two prices: either the price on the day of purchase online or the in-store price at the selected brick-and- mortar store on the day of pickup. With significant local competition in most markets, Circuit City’s in-store prices are usually competitive with most Web retailers for similar available products.

Circuit City’s E-Superstore will also offer an in-depth combination of side-by-side feature-price comparisons of approximately 1,100 brand-name consumer electronics, major appliances and personal computers. Customers will also be able to exchange or return online purchases at any Circuit City Superstore location.

Circuit City’s E-Superstore will initially offer approximately 700 brand-name products for sale online. The company plans on vastly expanding this number by the 1999 holiday season.

Initial products that will be offered when the E-Superstore opens in July include televisions; camcorders; digital cameras; DVD players; VCRs; TV/VCR combination units; stereo receivers; CD players; tape decks; speakers; mini- systems; portable CD and tape players; boom boxes; phones and cordless phones; microwaves; vacuums; answering machines; fax machines; desktop and laptop personal computers; printers; scanners; monitors; and a limited assortment of computer add-ons and accessories.

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