By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
In an effort to demystify broadband for consumers while facilitating the sale of ISP contracts, Circuit City has installed Broadband Stations at virtually all of its stores nationwide.
The displays provide demonstrations of broadband's capabilities, help consumers determine which high-speed Internet services are available at their addresses, and enable them to activate an ISP account. The stations also stock broadband modems and offer home networking services.
"We're making it easier than ever before for our customers to learn about broadband and even sign up for service right in the store," said John Froman, executive VP/merchandising for the No. 2 CE specialty chain. "We realize that we need not only to tell our customers that Circuit City provides broadband products, but show them how this technology connects everything in their home. [Our] ultimate goal in providing the Broadband Station is to make broadband technology simple to understand, purchase and use."
The one-stop broadband shops are equipped with TVs that run a DVD program that demonstrates the advantages of high-speed Internet access and showcases products like digital cameras, handheld computers and MP3 players that can be enabled or enhanced with a broadband connection. Consumers can also find out what services are available at their homes and offices by providing an address and telephone number.
Circuit City says the stations will offer "the most comprehensive display of broadband high speed Internet options offered at any consumer electronics retailer." The company has agreements with five of the top six major cable systems, including AT&T Broadband, Adelphia Communications, Charter Communications, Comcast Cable, Cox Communications, and offers DSL service through AOL High Speed DSL and DirecTV DSL. It also offers satellite hookups through AOL High Speed Satellite and DirecPC, and carries modems from Hughes, Motorola and Thompson, among other manufacturers.
To kick off the launch of the broadband displays, Circuit City is offering a free modem with any purchase of a Pentium 4 processor-based PC. The offer is good through the end of the year.
The displays were installed in each of Circuit City's 599 superstores save for its Hawaii location, which isn't covered by the company's broadband contracts. Cable access is offered in 443 stores, DSL is available through 478 stores and satellite service is sold in every superstore except Hawaii.
The company has assigned specially trained sales associates, dubbed "broadband specialists," to man the Broadband Stations and activate accounts.
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