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CompUSA Blurring the Lines between Brick and Mortar and Online Retail Shopping

Recently I had the benefit of touring CompUSA’s new flagship facility in Plantation, Florida (http://www.compusa.com/retailstores/compusaStores/plantation.asp). We were given a special presentation and tour by Gilbert Fiorentino (Chief Executive – Technology Products Group) of the stores creative new interactive shopping capabilities.

The store itself on first glance was not much different than any other electronics store. They had rows of large screen LCD TVs, desk top and laptop computers, end caps of digital camera, and so on. But when you look closer you’ll notice that every component is also connected to or attached to the internet where you can find the answers to all of your questions about the products specs, features, and comparison to similar products. In fact the internet access is not restricted to show only CompUSA products but allows the user to freely surf other non-offensive sites including their competitor’s websites. Mr. Fiorentino proudly proclaimed that he was happy to allow his customers to shop Best Buy (which there’s a store located across the street) as he feels confident in the end they will come back to CompUSA for their purchases.

The interactivity of the online super store was not only a benefit to the consumer, but also to the stores employees so that they will never be at a loss when trying to answer a customer’s questions about a product. The sales reps no longer need to be specialized in a given category or a master of all, rather just savvy enough to navigate the companies website to find the answers needed.

Yet the best part of all is that the customer is not restricted to purchasing only the items carried in the store. In fact from the same internet connected kiosk where they are checking the specs on the latest digital cameras or TV’s they can also navigate to any of the thousands of products CompUSA sells online including duplicators and purchase on the spot with free shipping direct to the customer’s home. For those customer’s that don’t feel comfortable paying with a credit card online, they can go directly to a cashier and make their purchase safely and easily.

I tested it myself searching some of the various products we offer through CompUSA like:

http://www.compusa.com/applications/SearchTools/search.asp?keywords=vinpower&searchbtn.x=0&searchbtn.y=0

http://www.compusa.com/applications/SearchTools/search.asp?keywords=xerox+duplicator&searchbtn.x=0&searchbtn.y=0

http://www.compusa.com/applications/SearchTools/search.asp?keywords=optical+quantum&searchbtn.x=0&searchbtn.y=0

Before there were set boundaries between the tangible convenience of brick and mortar stores and the low cost expansive world of internet shopping, now those lines have been blurred and it’s ultimately to the customer’s benefit.

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