CompUSA leverages Internet in-store

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CompUSA is testing a new in-store initiative that mixes bricks-and-mortar merchandising strategies with the Internet with the goal of giving shoppers access to the same research information they are viewing at home.

"Shoppers will get the online experience inside the store,” said Gilbert Fiorentino, CEO of Systemax Inc.'s technology products business, which includes CompUSA, in a statement about the new initiative. “They will know everything about the product before getting it home and unpackaged."

According to a 2006 study by the Consumer Electronics Association and Yahoo, 77% of consumer purchases were influenced by Internet research. While most consumer electronics purchases were made at retail stores, the study cited reasons shoppers researched online first, including 73% who said because it's easy to compare prices of the same product at different stores. Consumers who finally bought spent an average 12 hours researching online before they purchased, the study said.

At the CompUSA store in Dadeland, Miami, all desktops, laptops, monitors and televisions - more than 170 total screens – are now connected to dedicated computers. This provides shoppers with direct access via the Internet to all production information on the item they are searching from and allowing for further discovery outside of the CompUSA Web site.

Additional computer stations are available in every aisle so customers can obtain buying advice or type in a printer name to find out what ink they need.

The chain is calling the concept Retail 2.0, and the goal of the program is to raise the bar on customer service.

"Everything has changed in technology,” Fiorentino said in the statement. “Nothing has changed in retail, where the same old stores have employees who aren't educated about the products they're selling.”  

CompUSA's concept hopes to boost employees' expertise by giving them access to all product information they may need to help customers.

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