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Kenwood Inks Deal With 800.com

Kenwood has authorized Portland, Ore.-based e-tailer 800.com to carry its full home audio line, making the cyberstore the company's first online-only dealer.

The agreement, effective immediately, covers home and portable audio products including receivers, 200-plus-disc CD changers, speakers, shelf systems and home theater systems, as well as several DVD models. Authorization also extends to Kenwood's new Lifestyle sound system line that was introduced last month.

"We selected 800.com as our first authorized pure Internet retailer because they share our commitment to quality, innovation and customer service," said Kenwood USA president Joe Richter. "We are confident that 800.com will provide the best possible consumer electronics shopping experience to consumers who want to purchase Kenwood products online."

Kenwood also authorizes Crutchfield and Circuit City to sell its products online, and it is in talks with "one or two" other multichannel dealers to sell its products in cyberspace, he said.

"We've been talking to 800 for a long time," Richter told TWICE. "We like their business model, we like their merchandising team, and we like the way our products are presented on their web site."

800.com, founded three years ago by CEO Greg Drew, offers an extensive selection of high-end consumer electronics and a rich mix of reviews, buying tips, discussions and other original content. Drew prides himself on taking e-commerce's high road by emphasizing service over price, and by being authorized to carry each of the brands he sells, including Infinity, JBL, JVC, Panasonic, Philips and RCA.

With a merchandising staff led by 20-year retail veteran Frank Sadowski, formerly of Sun Television and Appliances, the site offers live customer support, tax-free transactions and free shipping.